Egypt’s Al Ahly took one step towards earning a FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2018 berth after they defeated Tunisian outfit Esperance de Tunis 3-1 in the first leg of the CAF Champions League Final.
Walid Soliman scored from the penalty spot in the 33rd minute before Amr Elsolia doubled their lead in the 58th minute. However, five minutes later it was Youcef Belaili’s turn to convert a spot kick, giving the visitors a valuable away goal. Soliman struck another penalty in the 77th minute to give Ahly a two-goal cushion heading into next week’s crucial second leg.
Over 60,000 fans packed out the Borg El Arab Stadium in Alexandria to witness the continental decider between two of Africa’s most historic sides.
Al Ahly’s veteran defender Ahmed Fathi had to be substituted out of the match in the 22nd minute after suffering an injury.
However, things turned around for the Egyptian club ten minutes later when Walid Azaro was fouled by goalkeeper Moez Ben Cherifia in the penalty area; the decision was confirmed by a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) review, a first in CAF Champions League Final history. Soliman scored the resulting penalty kick, finishing in the top left corner to give the hosts the lead.
Ahly’s advantage was then doubled when Soliman sent in a cross that the Esperance defenders failed to clear and Elsolia tapped in a shot from close range.
The Tunisian side then changed the complexion of the tie five minutes later when Belaili was fouled by El Shenawy in the penalty area. He made no mistake with the opportunity, converting his penalty kick to the bottom right corner to give his side a crucial away goal.
Soliman then scored the game’s third penalty kick in the 77th minute after Azaro was fouled in the penalty area once again to give Ahly a two-goal advantage ahead of next week’s second leg in Rades.