Ahmed Abdel Gaber (L) of Al Ahly fights for the ball with Mohamed Youssef of ES Tunis during the CAF Champions League final 1st leg match between Al Ahly and ES Tunis at Borg Al Arab Stadium in Alexandria, Egypt, 02 November 2018. EPA/Mohamed Hossam
Friday Nov 02, 2018. 23:41
Al Ahly beat Esperance de Tunis 3-1 in a hotly contested 2018 Caf Champions League final first-leg clash at the Borg El Arab Stadium in Alexandria on Friday evening.
The reverse fixture will take place at the Stade Olympique de Radès in Tunisia next week, the 9th of November.
Walid Soliman opened the scoring for the hosts from the penalty spot following a tense and physical start to the match, albeit following a contentious decision by the match official who consulted VAR which was in use for the first time in a Caf Champions League final.
Following a prolonged delay, the referee stuck by his original decision, having pointed to the spot following what he adjudged to have been a foul on Walid Azaro by Moen Ben Cherifia. Soliman duly stepped up and fired an unstoppable left-footed shot into the roof of the net with 34 minutes on the clock.
Esperance almost levelled matters on the cusp of half-time, but Ghaylene Chaalali's was unlucky to see his long range effort canon off the crossbar and out of danger as the hosts carried a narrow lead into the interval.
Amr El Sulya doubled the Red Devils lead in the 58th minute. The midfielder ran onto a superb cross by Soliman, with his first touch taking him past an Esperance defender and with his second he passed the ball home to spark wild celebrations.
Esperance, though, were not going down without and fight Youcef Belaili pulled a goal back from the penalty spot after he was fouled by Ahmed El Shenawy.
Al Ahly restored their lead in the 76th minute following yet another contentious penalty, following an off the ball incident inside the penalty area.
Nonetheless, Soliman stepped up and made no mistake from the spot once more as Al Ahly edge closer to a record ninth Caf Champions League crown.
Al Ahly (1) 3 (Soliman 34' 76' El Sulya 58')
Esperance (0) 1 (Belaili 64')
Al Ahly: El Shenawy ; Fathi (El Demerdash 22'), Samir, Coulibaly, Ashraf, Ashour, El Sulya, Hamoudi (Hussein 67'), Soliman, Mohareb, Azaro,
Esperance: Cherifia; Dhaouadi, Badri, Belaili, Chemmam, Coulibaly, Derbali, Chaalali, Erbeia, Khenissi (Mejri 79'), Kom.