Esperance de Tunis are through to the finals of the 2018 African Champions League following a 4-3 aggregate win over Primeiro de Agosto at Stade 7 Novembre – Rades, Tunisia Tuesday.
Heading into the thrilling match that was marred by fans unrest and questionable refereeing, Esperance needed to overcome a 1-0 first leg deficit to book the finals slot.
But it was Agosto who took an early lead through Hermenegildo Bartolomeu in the 8th minute, capitalizing on some lousy goalkeeping by Rami Jeridi to compound the Tunisians woes.
Backed by an intimidating crowd, Esperance continued to probe the Angolans’ rear guard and managed to bag a penalty after Jose Ganga tagged down Mohamed Belaili in the box.
Belaili stepped forward to coolly slot home to restore order in the 15th minute.
Defender Mohamed Yakoubi put the hosts in the lead for the first time in the game with a diving header in in the 27th minute for a 2-1 halftime score.
Esperance still needed one more goal to get the job done but once again the Angolan army side made their work even harder with a second away goal.
Congolese Lompala Bokamba atoned for an earlier mistake which led to the Esperance’s second goal, sending past Remi a beautifully taken free kick to restore order three minutes after the hour mark.
With frustrations started to trickle in, some unruly fans started engaging security men in the stands, hurled missiles at them as some threw firecrackers onto the field.
At some point visibility was greatly affected as smoke covered the pitch, however the game was not halted the entire time.
Substitute Haithem Jouini restored Esperance’s lead in the 74th with an easy tap in before Anice Badri scored the all-important goal in the 85th for a 4-2 final score.
Earlier, Zambian denied Agosto what looked like a clear goal for what he adjudged as infringement on Remi.
Esperance will play Al Ahly of Egypt in the two legged finals next month with the aggregate winner pocketing $2.5 million and a ticket to represent Africa in the FIFA Club World Cup.
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