Etoile du Sahel bounced back to beat Enugu Rangers 2-1 on Sunday in Sousse for their first win at the group stage.
Bright Silas gave the Nigerians the lead on the quarter-hour mark before Iheb Msakni and Saddem Ben Aziza scored in either half to give ‘Les Diables Rouges’ a lifeline and remain in contention for a place at the next round.
The Tunisians knew they had to prove themselves at home after a winless spell in their last two Group B games. And they almost broke the deadlock on 13 minutes after a free-kick by Maher Hannachi met the head of Ben Aziza, but the latter’s effort went wide.
Rangers responded two minutes later when Michael Uchebo found Silas who went on a run past his markers before firing past Etoile goalie Makram Bdiri.
Etoile were not going to take things lightly. Their response came in the 35th minute when Malek Baayou’s free-kick found Msakni, whose header beat Nana Bonsu in post for Rangers.
The homers resumed stronger and four minutes past the hour mark Darwin Gonzalez had the chance to put them up for the first time, but his effort kissed the crossbar. Ben Aziza who was lurking around tapped home the rebound to give Etoile the lead.
Twelve minutes before the end, Gonzalez was denied by Bonsu as the homers cruised to a narrow win.
In the other Group B match, Tunisia’s CS Sfaxien and Salitas of Burkina Faso settled for a barren draw in Sfax. Sfaxien leads the pack on five points, one more than Etoile and Rangers with Salitas in that order on two points.
Roger Lemerre (Head Coach, Etoile du Sahel)
What mattered in this game were the points and we were successful in getting them today. Despite having conceded first, we managed to come back which wasn’t easy. We are fully satisfied because we are back in the race for qualification. The consecutive games we have been playing have taken a toll on the players which resulted in many injuries.
Saddam Ben Aziza (Defender, Etoile du Sahel)
It doesn’t matter if I scored or one of my teammates, the important thing is the three points. These points will better our chances of qualifying. Had we scored from the chances that came our way, we could’ve won by a bigger margin. The important thing is that we played well. We conceded an early goal but we recovered and were up to the task.
Gbenga Ogunbote (Head Coach, Enugu Rangers)
The match has been played. We scored first but lost eventually. I think all we can do is take the positive things from this game and wait for the return leg. When we scored, we retreated and paid dearly for our careless reaction. The mistakes we made in defense cost us the game.
Bright Silas (Forward, Enugu Rangers)
We tried our best but we didn’t expect the game to turn out like this. We didn’t fall back in the second half. We’re hoping we can play better in the next game.
Source: Confederation Africaine de Football