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VAR drama as Al Ahly edge Espérance in Champions League final first-leg

VAR drama as Al Ahly edge Espérance in Champions League final first-leg
Al Ahly are one step closer to clinch their ninth title after a dramatic 3-1 victory over Espérance Sportive de Tunis at Borg El-Arab.

The Red Devils hosted the Tunisian side at Borg El-Arab one week before travelling to face them at Stade Olympique de Radès.

Going into the game, Both teams knew that an early goal would help them massively in lifting the title, so they started the game with intensity, which saw both Walid Soliman and Khalil Chammam go down after a clash of heads.

In the 17th minute, Chamseddine Dhaouadi received a yellow for a foul on Walid Azaro, which meant that the Tunisian defender will miss the return-leg in Tunisia.

Carteron was forced to bring Ahmed Fathi off after only 23 minutes as the Egypt international struggled to continue on due to a knee injury and was replaced by Mohamed Hany.

Al Ahly were awarded a penalty after Walid Azaro received a magnificent pass from Hamodui, before the Moroccan was tackled by goalkeeper Moez Ben Cherifia.

The referee consulted the VAR before confirming his decision, and Walid Soliman stepped up and converted the penalty, making it 1-0 after 34 minutes.

The visitors dominated the rest of the first-half, but couldn’t convert their chances and Al Ahly winger Hamodui had a huge chance to double his side’s lead, but his shot was brilliantly saved by the goalkeeper.

Ghaylen Chaaleli nearly scored his side’s first of the night, but his wonder strike from long range hit Mohamed El-Shennawy bar, before the rebound from Sameh Derbali was tipped out for a corner by the Egyptian goalkeeper.

Espérance were the more dominant side in the early minutes of the second-half, and the pressure forced Saad Samir to receive a yellow card for a foul on Youcef Belaïli.

Against the run of play, Al Ahly managed to double their lead after a great link-up play between Amr El-Sulya and Walid Soliman, before El-Sulya easily put the ball past the goalkeeper to make it 2-0 in the 58th minute.

Espérance managed to get back into the game after winning a penalty less than 10 minutes later, as Youcef Belaïli was brought down inside the box by El-Shennawy. Belaïli converted the penalty to score a vital away goal for his side.

Seconds after the goal, Mido Gaber replaced Ahmed Hamoudi as Carteron wanted to add more energy to his attack.

In the 72nd minute, Walid Azaro won another penalty for Al Ahly after he was brought down inside the box. The VAR was consulted and the Algerian referee awarded the penalty.

Walid Soliman stepped up once again and managed to restore the two-goal lead for Al Ahly. The goal was Soliman’s sixth in the CAF Champions League this season.

Soliman nearly got his hattrick, but his free-kick hit Moez Ben Cherifia’s bar. Just when Esperance thought it can’t get any worse, their key man Franck Kom received a yellow card for a foul on Islam Mohareb, making the Cameroon international unavailable for selection in the return-leg.

Al Ahly managed to hold on to their two-goal lead and secured a crucial win ahead of the return-leg.

The decisive game will take part on Friday, November 9 at Stade Olympique de Radès, with Al Ahly needing at least a draw or a 1-0 loss to clinch the title.

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