It was a wild weekend in the CAF Champions League as only Al Ahly and Esperance maintained a perfect record after two rounds in the group stage. Only the top two teams in each section will qualify for October's last semi-final stage.
Game of the week
Esperance 3–2 ASO Chlef
The defending champions looked like they were going to falter for the first time in over a year of continental play as they were behind to the visiting Algerians 2-1 with just five minutes on the clock. However, Khaled Mouelhi's second penalty of the game equalised the exciting match shortly after, and Joseph Yannick Ndjeng kept his cool in front of goal to score during second-half injury-time to be the hero. Mouelhi's first spot-kick was won by Youssef Msakni before Chlef’s Farid Mellouli equalised approaching half-time from a slick diving header that just bounded into the net. The Blood and Gold were wasteful in the second half, and they could not believe their luck as the go-ahead goal was converted by Mohamed Massoud at the end of a quick counter-attack. However, Esperance’s new signing Youssef Belaili proved his worth immediately by winning the second penalty and then breaking the offside trap to set up the Cameroonian striker for the winner. Esperance have won both their matches in Group A and sit atop the table with six points while Chlef have lost twice.
TP Mazembe 2–2 Berekum Chelsea
The debutantes from Ghana are keeping the dream alive after holding the four-time African champions in front of a stunned crowd at the Stade Mazembe in Lubumbashi. The draw leaves Chelsea on four points after they upset Zamalek a fortnight ago, and the hero once again was Emmanuel Clottey. Scorer of a hat-trick against the Whites, the tournament’s top marksman pulled his team back into the match when it seemed all was lost. After converting a penalty with just over a quarter of an hour to go, Clottey ran into the right side of the Congolese defence and lashed a precise left-footed shot across the goalkeeper in the 85th minute. The dramatic turn for the Blues, who had fallen behind against Zamalek as well, cancelled out Tresor Mabi Mputu’s first half brace. At the ten-minute mark, Mputu angled in a low drive from the edge of the area, and 20 minutes later he blasted a high rebound into the roof of the net after his penalty kick had been saved. Clottey now has 11 goals in eight matches, and his team are second in Group B. Dangerous Mazembe have just one point from their first two matches after losing at Al Ahly in their opener.
Mputu is joint second in the top scorer chart with six goals, alongside Egypt’s Mohamed Aboutrika, who scored the only goal in Sunday night’s lacklustre Cairo derby between Ahly and Zamalek. Played behind closed doors at the Military Academy Stadium, both teams were seemingly happy drifting towards a point apiece. Zamalek’s Ahmed Samir and Abdoulaye Cisse were guilty of profligacy in the first period before Samir redeemed himself by heading Aboutrika’s free-kick off the line in the second half. The 33-year-old icon was not to be denied however as he rose well to snap a header down and into the net from Abdallah Said’s perfectly weighted cross. Ahly are now on six points after another late goal saved them on the opening weekend against Mazembe, while five-time champions Zamalek are at the foot of the table without a point and dreading their next match at Mazembe in August.
Champions League debutantes Sunshine Stars were luckier than Chlef in Group A, holding on for a scoreless draw at Etoile du Sahel. The Tunisian hosts were expecting to keep pace with compatriots Esperance but could find no breakthrough at the Olympic Stadium in Sousse against the rugged Nigerian defence and will have to settle for four points from two matches. The Akure-based visitors are known for their defence, and they were well-marshalled by captain Godfrey Oboabona and goalkeeper Moses Ocheje. Next up for Etoile is a visit to their Tunisian rivals Esperance on 5 August.
Player of the week
Not only is Aboutrika in grand scoring form for club and country, the Egyptian playmaker became the all-time leading scorer in the Cairo derby after finding the net for the 11th time against Zamalek.
23 – The number of home Champions League matches Esperance have gone without defeat after beating Chlef. The streak, which includes 18 victories, goes back to a 2005 home loss to Zamalek.
What they said
"We have six points to start with two home matches left to play, so we have made great strides toward our ultimate goal of defending the title," Esperance coach Nabil Maaloul.
Have your say
Will Mazembe or Zamalek recover from slow starts to reach the semi-finals?