Etoile Sportive du Sahel sealed a 1-0 victory over Stade Malien in Sousse on Friday, in their Group A opener of the 2015 Confederation Cup.
The first clear chance of the game came in the 6th minute, with Hamza Lahmar forcing a great save from Stade Malien keeper Oumar Koné from a dangerous free-kick.
The visitors had their best first half opportunity just past the half an hour mark, when Mamadou Coulibaly set up Boubacar Bangoura, whose close range effort just brushed off the post.
And just before the break, Etoile star striker Baghdad Bounedjah saw his 20-yard lob attempt go slightly wide.
The locals added some pressure on their opponents in the second half, missing several opportunities to break the deadlock through Hamza Lahmar, Baghdad Bounedjah and substitute Aymen Trabelsi.
Youssef Mouihbi didn’t do better when he lost his one on one with Oumar Koné in the 67th minute, with the Malian keeper making another great save in front of Ammar Jemal three minutes later.
However, a successful 71st minute header from Bounedjah ultimately gave the Tunisians a deserved lead.
The visitors tried to fight back straight away, but Mamadou Coulibaly went wide with a powerful effort from range in the 76th minute, while Mohamed Cisse Moctar wasted a clear chance at the far post a minute later.
Things went worse for Stade Malien ten minutes from time, with Idrissa Traore receiving his marching orders for a second bookable offence.
But despite a final Bounedjah’s attempt deep into stoppage time, Etoile Sportive had to settle for a narrow but crucial 1-0 victory.
African giants Al Ahly and Espérance de Tunis will battle in Suez on Sunday in the other Group A fixture.