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Mathlouthi penalty save bails out Étoile du Sahel in scoreless CAFCL draw against CR Belouizdad

A mostly drab scoreless draw came to an exciting conclusion when a second half injury time penalty kick save by Étoile du Sahel goalkeeper Aymen Mathlouthi saved a point for the hosts against Algeria’s CR Belouizdad. The two teams start Group C action with a point each before the group’s second match kicks off tomorrow between Espérance Tunis and Botswana’s Jwaneng Galaxy.

Chances were few and far between throughout the ninety minutes. The hosts from Tunisia generally had more possession but were toothless in the final third and struggled to put their shots on target. CR Belouizdad looked to be more dangerous on the few occasions they threatened but concentrated more on keeping their defensive shape, failing to sneak a goal for the maximum three points.

After trading speculative efforts in a drab first half, the first real opportunity for either team came the way of CRB on 61 minutes. Midfielder Larbi Tabti chipped in a well measured aerial ball to find tall striker Karim Aribi for a look on goal, but the former Étoile player’s header was just held by a diving Mathlouthi in front of his goal line.

Étoile should have had a winner in the 81st minute when an attacking free kick came in from out wide, but center back Ghofrane Naouali’s header came crashing off the post and clear after diving on to the ball. In second half injury time a dream opportunity came for CRB after substitute Kheiredine Merzougui was brought down in the box for a penalty kick, but Merzougui’s spot kick was well saved by a diving Mathlouthi to make the 37-year-old the hero on the day.

Highlights from Tunis are below.

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