Zesco United laboured to a 1-1 draw against ten-man El Hilal of Sudan in their Group C clash on Sunday at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola.
Hilal were be biggest winners on the day despite having ex-Zesco forward Idris Mbombo sent-off in stoppage time of the first half for unsporting behaviour. It was a bitter homecoming for the Congolese who was a fans’ favourite at Zesco few years ago.
The draw also saw Hilal rebound just ten days after they lost 2-1 away to another Zambian side Nkana in Kitwe.
But the result was a dent for Zesco who returned home seeking to better fortunes after losing 2-1 away in to Ghana’s Asante Kotoko in Kumasi.
Both sides had modest chances to score in the first half with Zesco striker Lazarus Kambole firing wide in the opening minutes whilst Quadri Aladeokun missed one in the 30th minute.
Mbombo too had an opportunity midway before his early shower as the two sides went into the break scoreless.
Hilal resumed on a defensive note as Zesco poured forward but in frustration when John Chingandu’s shot was saved in the 53rd minute by Salim Magoola while Aladeokun’s delightful left footed curler went marginally wide of the far post in the 55th minute.
The Sudanese giants then took the lead against the run of play on a rare counter in the 65th minute when an unmarked Nasr Edin Ahmed fired the ball past Jacob Banda after he collected a cross from Samawal Elyas.
Zesco, though, persevered and found a crack in the Hilal wall in the 72nd minute when Kambole eluded his marker to finish off a threaded ball from Jesse Were inside the box to let out a huge sigh after a torturous second half against a resolute Hilal despite their numerical disadvantage.
The Zambia champions drop to second on four points after three games, two points behind compatriots Nkana, who beat Kotoko 3-1 up the road in Kitwe in the earlier kick-off. Hilal are third also on four points, with Kotoko in that order on three points.
Source: Confederation Africaine de Football