Democratic Republic of Congo club TP Mazembe recaptured Sunday the form that made them African giants to beat JS Kabylie of Algeria 2-0 in the CAF Confederation Cup.
The first leg victory margin in Lubumbashi in a play-off should suffice to take the title-holders into the group phase of the African equivalent of the Europa League.
In keeping with the multi-national flavour of the team, both Mazembe goals came from foreigners on an artificial pitch at Stade Mazembe.
Zambian Nathan Sinkala put the home team ahead after 11 minutes and Malian Salif Coulibaly doubled the lead in the final minute of regular time.
The match was the major attraction of 15 Confederation Cup first legs played this weekend.
Mazembe are the second most successful club in CAF competitions with 10 titles and Kabylie boast the fifth best record after six triumphs.
But the Congolese battled in Africa this year ahead of the Kabylie fixture, losing the one-off CAF Super Cup match against Mamelodi Sundowns in South Africa.
They then fell at their first hurdle in the Champions League, losing to modest CAPS United of Zimbabwe on away goals after two draws.
That meant relegation for the second successive season to the Confederation Cup, which offers less prize money and prestige.
Record three-time Confederation Cup winners CS Sfaxien of Tunisia look set for the 16-club mini-league stage after a 2-1 win over Rail Kadiogo in Burkina Faso.
Houssem Habessi was the match-winner in a fixture staged behind closed doors after Kadiogo fans flung bottles and invaded the pitch in a CAF game last month.
Club Africain completed a profitable day for Tunisian clubs by defeating AS Port Louis 2-1 in Mauritius through goals from Slimene Kchok and Mannoubi Haddad.
Zesco United of Zambia came from two goals behind to force a 2-2 draw at Enugu Rangers of Nigeria with Patrick Kongolo levelling 14 minutes from time.
Chibuzor Madu converted a first-half penalty for Rangers and Osas Okoro stretched the lead for the “Flying Antelopes” just after half-time.
Kenyan David Owino scored his second goal in the competition this year to halve the deficit for Zesco, who were surprise 2016 Champions League semi-finalists.
South African clubs had mixed results in the west of the continent.
SuperSport United drew 1-1 with Barrack Young Controllers in Liberia while Platinum Stars were beaten 2-0 by AS Tanda in the Ivory Coast.
Source: Confederation Africaine de Football (CAF)