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CR Belouizdad put in a complete display to put Espérance on the ropes following first-leg victory

CR Belouizdad have been far from the flashiest team in the CAF Champions League this season, but last year’s Algeria Ligue 1 Professionnelle champions put in another workmanlike performance at home to snatch a 2-0 advantage over favorites Espérance on Saturday in their first leg matchup. Zakaria Draoui tallied in the first half for the hosts and Amir Sayoud scored late in the second half to finish off a complete performance as CRB prepares for a difficult second-leg encounter in Tunisia.

In a first-half that saw one good opportunity for each side, Espérance attempted to make an impact early and nearly found the opener in the 17th minute. Right-back Hamdi Nagguez made a burst down the flank and crossed low for Mohamed Ben Romdhane, whose low effort made it by CRB keeper Toufik Moussaoui but was cleared off the line by a defender.

CRB found glory on their opportunity when Draoui found the opener in the 35th minute. Housseyn Selmi did well to surge by an impulsive challenge from EST left-back Illyes Chetti and had plenty of room to dribble in and cross unobstructed to Draoui for an excellent low first-time finish.

The visitors tried to claw their way back into the match in the second half but found little success in the final third against CRB’s stubborn defense. Espérance found more opportunities but failed to get a shot on target that could further trouble CRB keeper Moussaoui. The best chance came in the 76th minute when substitute Khalid Basit was well set up by Ben Romdhane, but the imposing Ghanaian striker put his poor finish high over the bar from 8 yards out.

Indeed, Espérance would pay once again for their wastefulness in front of goal when CRB gave themselves a two-goal cushion in the final ten minutes. In the 82nd minute Sayoud combined brilliantly with Draoui to get behind the EST defense and slide his finish past keeper Moez Ben Cherifa and just inside the far post. It could have been an even worse day for Espérance if it wasn’t for some last ditch goalkeeping and defending from their defense to keep CRB from adding one more in the final seconds of stoppage time.

Espérance will have plenty of work to do next Saturday at home in order to save a CAFCL campaign that was quite fruitful up to this point while CRB will be difficult to break down with their two-goal advantage. Highlights are below.


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