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VIDEO: Al Ahly escape Tunis with 1-0 win over Espérance
John Antwi netted his first goal for Al Ahly in the CAF Confederation Cup to lead the Red Devils to a 1-0 win over Espérance in Tunis.
A week after scoring four goals in Al Ahly’s 13-0 dismantling of El Gouna in the Egypt Cup, Antwi recorded one more, his first in African competitions, to give Al Ahly a 1-0 win over Espérance in Tunis.
Espérance: Moez Ben Cherifa; Iheb Mbarki, Chamseddine Dhaouadi, Mohamed Ali Yacoubi, Sameh Derbali; Houcine Ragued, Ghilane Chalali, Chaker Reguii, Ilyes Jelassi; Fakhreddine Ben Youssef, Samuel Eduok.
Al Ahly: Sherif Ekramy; Bassem Ali, Saad Samir, Mohamed Naguib, Hussein El-Sayed; Hossam Ghaly, Hossam Ashour Abdallah El-Said, Momen Zakareya, Ramadan Sobhi; John Antwi.
Al Ahly came out of the tunnels gunning, with Ramadan Sobhy earning the Red Devils a corner kick in the first minute. Their strong pressure paid dividends in the sixth minute when John Antwi turned home a Ramadan Sobhy cross to put the visitors onto the strong foot.
After the goal, Fathi Mabrouk instructed his team to lay off, invite pressure, and hit the Tunisians on the counter attack. The invitation of pressure resulted in several good chances for the Blood and Gold, but Al Ahly’s defense held well.
The Malagasy referee correctly denied two penalty appeals from Espérance, but Al Ahly were not able to always receive the benefit of the doubt from the referee as both Bassem Ali and Hossam Ashour found themselves booked before 30 minutes.
In the 33rd minute, Ekramy pulled off his first save to magnificently deny an Espérance free kick, and the teams eventually went into the tunnels with the visitors holding on to a 1-0 lead at half time.
The second half began much more contained, with neither side able to challenge the goalkeepers until the 51th minute.
John Antwi powered home a header off the crossbar, in what he thought was his second goal. However, the linesman incorrectly flagged for offside, denying Al Ahly a much-deserved second goal.
Ten minutes later, Fathi Mabrouk made his first change by sending Walid Soliman on to replace Momen Zakaria, who had a quiet game.
The Tunisians almost equalized from a free kick on the edge of the box, but Ben Youssef sent his shot just over Ekramy’s crossbar.
Two minutes later, Walid Soliman collapsed on a rebound from a fine save by Ben Cherifa to find the back of the net, but he was correctly ruled offside. In the 71st minute, an injured John Antwi was replaced by fellow summer signee Malick Evouna.
Ten minutes later, the Gabonese forward almost doubled the lead, but his first touch following a Ramadan Sobhy cross was too heavy, and the chance went begging.
In the first minute of stoppage time, Al Ahly made their last change as Ramadan Sobhy was replaced by veteran striker Emad Meteb. One minute later, Evouna should have put the game beyond doubt when he rounded the last defender to put himself in the six yard box, but he sent his shot just wide of the far post.
The Tunisians almost stunned Al Ahly in the seventh minute of stoppage time, but Sherif Ekramy tremendously pulled off a leg save to spare his team’s blushes. The referee finally blew for full time after eight additional minutes, and Ahly ran off 1-0 victors.
The win sent the Red Devils to the top of group A, one point ahead of Etoile du Sahel, who have yet to play third-place Stade Malien for the match-day. A Sahel win or draw would see them secure their place in the knockout stage, along with Al Ahly, with their positions simply left to be determined.
The Red Devils will conclude their group stage matches against Stade Malien in Egypt on September 11-13. In the same weekend, Etoile du Sahel close out their group stage against Tunisian counterparts, Espérance.
Watch the goal: