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AFL: Fofana header gives TP Mazembe slight edge over Espérance

Congolese giants TP Mazembe will have a one-goal lead to defend in Tunis after defeating Espérance ST by a 1-0 score in Saturday’s first leg of their African Football League quarterfinal clash. Cheikh Fofana’s header in the first half was enough for Mazembe who hosted the first leg at the Benjamin Mkapa National Stadium in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The teams will meet again on Wednesday for the second leg.

The visitors from Tunisia got off to a strong start but after controlling the opening ten minutes, it was the Ravens of TP Mazembe who snatched the lead. In the 11th minute a short corner kick caught the Espérance defense off guard and Mazembe winger Philippe Kinzumbi had plenty of time to curl in a dangerous cross. Talented young Malian striker Fofana was wide open to send a powerful header that was too much for EST goalkeeper Amanallah Memmiche to handle.

The goal and vocal support from Congolese and Tanzanian fans helped Mazembe gain confidence as the match proceeded with opportunities for both clubs. Niger national team forward Boubacar Hainikoye nearly doubled Mazembe’s lead early in the second half with a stunning volley that went just over the crossbar.

Espérance appeared to equalize in the 62nd minute when striker Rodrigues assisted fellow substitute Yan Sasse for a finish into the roof of the net but the goal was waved off by the Video Assistant Referee for offside. A late push from the Tunisian giants failed to find an equalizer and they will need to overturn the deficit back home in Tunis.

Highlights from the match are below.

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