Defending champions Esperance and fellow Tunisians Etoile du Sahel started off Group A with away wins, while Al Ahly and Berekum Chelsea found very late winners at home to claim the early pace in Group B. There are five more matchdays in the group stage with the top two teams in the table advancing to the semi-finals.
Game of the week
Al Ahly 2-1 TP Mazembe
Despite being played in an empty arena in Cairo, there was no shortage of drama as Mohamed 'Gedo' Nagy scored a late winner to bring back memories of his Golden Boot showing at the 2010 CAF African Cup of Nations. Ahly had most of the match their way, and they led after Emad Moteab put away a well-taken goal in the 12th minute that was created by a pair of precise passes by Walid Soliman and Mohamed Aboutrika. The Crows lacked their usual pace, but they did hit the post from Miala Nkulukuta’s wicked free kick ten minutes into the second half. Goalkeeper Muteba Kidiaba had to be at his best to keep the lead at a single goal, and it seemed a larger deficit when the Congolese club had defender Joel Kimwaki sent off in the 81st minute. But just moments later Mbwana Samata headed home an equaliser when the goalkeeper might have done better, which set the stage for supersub Gedo to finish cooly from 12 yards after an incisive attack.
Berekum Chelsea 3-2 Zamalek
It was a battle of two strikers in a hugely entertaining match in Accra as Ghana’s debutants stunned the five-time champions. Tournament top scorer Emmanuel Clottey bagged a hat-trick for the hosts, while Abdoulaye Cisse replied with an impressive brace in his first match since signing for the Whites in May. The Burkinabe striker opened the scoring in the 22nd minute after winning the ball back himself. Clottey and Cisse then traded acrobatic diving headers around the half-hour mark before the in-form Blues forward showed off some speed to pull the match even for the second time. Both defenses settled then, but just when the match seemed to be heading for a draw, Clottey, who also hit the woodwork twice in the first half, was there again, poking home the winner in injury time. Drawn against three teams with 15 continental titles between then, Chelsea top Group B on goal difference over Ahly.
Both of Tunisia’s teams will like their chances of reaching the last four after picking up significant away wins. Defending champions Esperance flexed their muscles in the first half of a difficult fixture against Sunshine Stars with their two forwards Joseph Yannick Ndjeng and Youssef Msakni getting on the scoresheet in a 2-0 victory. Starlet Msakni, who recently announced he is leaving the club for Qatar’s Lekhwiya at the end of the year, was quickest to a cross in the 20th minute, while Ndjeng placed a shot from the edge of the area in injury time. The Blood and Gold, who also won this event in 1994, lost control of the second half against the Champions League debutantes as the match wore on, but goalkeeper Moez Ben Cherifia and the woodwork kept the visitors secure.
Esperance’s domestic rivals Etoile du Sahel also have three points after navigating a tricky road match at Algeria’s ASO Chlef. The 2007 Champions League winners won 1-0 after midfielder Aymen Belaid rose quickest to head home from a free kick routine inside the first ten minutes. The visitors mostly held their nerve in front of the tough Chlef crowd, but they had talismanic goalkeeper Aymen Mathlouthi to thank in the end for holding off the hosts.
Player of the week
With his second treble of the competition, Clottey sits well atop of the continental scoring stakes at nine goals. Emotional after his hero performance, the 24-year-old explained that the goals were for his mother who recently passed away. "All of my goals came from my mother, and I dedicate them all to her,” he said.
6 – The number of matches Chlef had gone unbeaten in the 2012 Champions League before losing at home to Etoile.
What they said
"Our best is yet to come. We should get even better when our suspended players return in the next games," Esperance coach Nabil Maaloul.
Have your say
Can Chlef or Stars rebound in Group A?