TUNIS (Reuters) – Esperance midfielder Saad Beguir scored either side of halftime to help the Tunisian side win the African Champions League with a 3-0 victory over Al Ahly of Egypt in the second leg of the final to claim the trophy 4-3 on aggregate on Friday.
Esperance fought back from a 3-1 defeat in last week’s incident-filled first leg in Alexandria, where controversial VAR decisions clouded the outcome, to lift the continent’s top club prize in convincing fashion.
The Tunisians had struggled to break down a dogged Ahly defence but made better headway as the game progressed, cheered on by a noisy 60,000-strong crowd.
Beguir scored with virtually the last touch of the first period, slipping the ball home after being teed up by a cut back from the left by Taha Yassine Khenissi.
The 24-year-old midfielder then got the all-important second goal as he rose to head home Mohamed Ali Yaccoubi’s cross in the 53rd minute before going off minutes later with a knee injury.
The second goal prompted a switch in tactics from both sides as Ahly switched to attack and Esperance immediately made changes to bolster their defence to hold onto their advantage.
But Esperance caught Ahly on the counter attack with Anice Badri adding a third in the 86th minute with his eight goal of this year’s competition.
The match had a tense build-up after the first leg in which the referee handed Ahly two questionable penalties and there were accusations of violence by the players of both clubs on the pitch and in the tunnel after the match.
It was Esperance’s third Champions League success following titles in 1994 and 2011, while Ahly had hoped to extend their record of eight titles by winning for the first time since 2013.
(Reporting by Mark Gleeson, editing Ken Ferris)