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Djabou strike lifts Sétif over Espérance in Tunis for surprise place in CAFCL semifinal

Another stout defensive performance with multiple excellent saves from goalkeeper Sofiane Khedairia set the stage for a CAFCL upset as Algeria’s ES Sétif shocked African heavyweights Espérance 1-0 on the road to advance to the semifinals after a 0-0 first leg result. The Tunisian giants had plenty of opportunities but Abdelmoumene Djabou’s first half strike demoralized the hosts and allowed Sétif to bunker down for the aggregate victory, giving Algeria a surprise representative in the final four of Africa’s most prestigious club competition.

Espérance got their first shot on target in the opening minute and it appeared that despite not having to play in front of a partisan crowd due to a CAF punishment for the hosts, Sétif were set for a long night in the Tunisian capital. However, the Black Eagles composed themselves to take advantage of EST’s failure to generate more early opportunities and get themselves into the match.

ESS waited for their chance to strike a crucial away goal and made no mistake when it arrived in the 20th minute. EST center back Abdelkader Bedrane turned the ball over in the Espérance defensive third, allowing Sétif forward Riad Benayad to pick out Djabou’s run behind the defense. The 35-year-old veteran playmaker kept his composure to dribble around advancing EST goalkeeper Moez Ben Cherifia and tucked his finish into the empty net for the visitors to take a shock lead.

The hosts spent plenty of time in the Sétif half but struggled to break down the Black and White bunker. Hamdou Elhouni drove in from the left wing in the 31st minute but his low hard shot did not give Khedairia any trouble as ESS held on quite comfortably for a halftime lead. Khedairia came up with a series of save around ten minutes after the break, the most spectacular of which came in the 55th minute when a cross from EST left back Illyes Chetti found Mohammed Ali Ben Hammouda for a header that Khedairia kept out with an acrobatic diving save.

The panic started to set in for the hosts knowing they needed two goals to overcome Sétif’s away goal and were cursing their poor luck when Ghailene Chaalali’s low drive from the edge of the ESS box had Khedairia clearly beaten, but the ball rolled along the goal line without going in. EST substitute striker also beat Khedairia after getting behind to blast into the goal but was ruled offside, and ESS held out for the shock road victory to celebrate their advancement.

Highlights from Tunis are below.

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