Ahly, Esperance book CAF Champions League final places
Egyptian giants Al Ahly set up a 2018 CAF Champions League final meeting with Esperance of Tunisia after both sides scraped through their semifinal ties on Tuesday.
Ahly lost 2-1 at Algerian club ES Setif, but claimed the tie 3-2 on aggregate, while Esperance looked dead and buried before they rallied to beat Angolan outfit Primeiro de Agosto 4-2 to secure a 4-3 aggregate success.
The final will be played on the weekends of November 2-4 and 9-11, with Ahly at home in the first leg as they seek to extend their record number of wins in Africa's elite club competition to nine.
Primeiro narrowly failed to become the first Angolan side to reach the Champions League final when they lost at Esperance's Stade El Menzah in Tunis, having gone into the match with a 1-0 lead from the home leg.
Primeiro held the upper hand for the first 175 minutes of the tie, but came unstuck in the final five as their dreams were dashed by the Tunisians.
The Angolans took the lead on the night on eight minutes with a rare attack as Geraldo blasted the ball home after home goalkeeper Rami Jridi could not hold the initial shot.
But the home team were level when referee Janny Sikazwe correctly pointed to the spot following a wild lunge in the area from Primero captain Dany. Algerian midfielder Youcef Belaili, who was the player fouled, made no mistake from the spot with a cool finish.
And the home team were ahead on 27 minutes when defender Mohamed Yaakoubi headed home after Primeiro had failed to clear a corner-kick that was played back into the box.
Esperance pressed for the goal that would take them ahead on aggregate, but the visitors scored next midway through the second period when DR Congo forward Lumpala Bokamba steered them in front on aggregate.
With a little over 20 minutes to go, Esperance had it all to do, and as they had done the whole night, bombarded the Primeiro goal.
They were rewarded when substitute Haythem Jouini set up a grandstand finish with a well-worked goal, but the home team had to wait until five minutes from the end before they got their noses in front.
Anice Badri scored his sixth goal of the Champions League campaign to make the score 4-2 on the night and 4-3 on aggregate, to break Primeiro hearts in Tunis.
Ahly led 2-0 from the first leg and looked home and dry when they took the lead on the night just past the hour-mark through Walid Soliman.
That left Setif needing to score four times to reach the final, and they got two goals in quick succession as first Mohamed Islam Bakir and then Houssam Ghacha netted for the hosts.
That left them with 20 minutes to salvage the tie, but Ahly were able to shut up shop and take coach Patrice Carteron to another continental final after he won this competition with TP Mazembe in 2015.