Esperance beat Sunshine to top ACL group
Azuka of Sunshine vs Esperance Sunday in Ijebu-Ode
Esperance thus lead the standings on three points after the first round of games in their group after local rivals Etoile du Sahel also won 1-0 at Aso Chlef of Algeria on Saturday.
The perennial Tunisian champions told MTNFootball.com that this big win will boost their chances of going beyond the group stage
"It was a good game, we did our best and took our chances,” said Harrison Afful.
“The victory has put us in good mood to excel in the group. We will take the game as they come. This has been won and lost, we will go back to Tunisia and start preparing for the next game."
Goalkeeper Moez Ben Cherifa said it was a sweet victory for them as they look forward to defend the trophy they won last year.
"We came here to play and win and that we did. We want to retain the trophy and this is a good step towards that,” he declared.
This was a game of two halves – Esperance dominated the first 45 minutes and made the most of this with two well taken goals.
However, after the break Sunshine stepped up their game but they were denied by the brilliance of Esperance goalkeeper Ben Cherifa and the post.
Esperance took the lead deservedly after 20 minutes through Youssef Msakni, who slid home a superb low cross from the right by the lively Ghana international Afful.
Sunshine would have drawn level almost immediately but Osas Idehen’s effort from inside the Esperance box came off the post.
The Tunisians doubled their lead in first half stoppage time when big Cameroonian striker Yannick Ndjeng controlled the ball on top of the Sunshine box before he fired beyond the diving goalkeeper Moses Ocheje.
Before then, Ocheje had to make a reflex save in the 39th minute to keep out the Tunisians.
In the second half, Sunshine posted an improved performance, fighting back in search of goals.
But Esperance goalkeeper Ben Cherifa pulled off big saves in the 81st and 87th minutes.
Sunshine substitute Dele Olorundare was denied by the post on 67 minutes with Ben Cherifa well beaten.
In the second round of matches to be played in the weekend of July 20-21, Esperance will be home to Aso Chlef of Algeria, while Etoile welcome Sunshine Stars.