Esperance defeat FC Platinum

Esperance...(1)2  
FC Platinum...0

HARARE - FC Platinum learnt a lesson on the importance of clinical finish in high level competitions when they lost to Tunisia giants Esperance in an African Champions League Group B match at the Stade El Menzah in Tunis yesterday.

The Blood and Gold, who are the defending champions of the competition, did not really fire on all cylinders or completely dominated FC Platinum but they just made use of the few chances they created.

Yassine Khenissi scored a brace for the home side as he exploited some scrappy and schoolboy defending from Pure Platinum Play.

After having managed to hold South African giants Orlando Pirates to a goalless draw in their opening group match at Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo last week, a lot was expected from Norman Mapeza’s side yesterday.

However, Mapeza’s side was made to pay by the defending champions, who were clinical in front of goal with Khenissi cool as cucumber when the chances fell on his lap.     
In the first minutes, Esperance took the game to the Zimbabweans, who were defending with a deep line.

The Blood and Gold got a number of set-pieces inside the visitors’ half but they could not capitalise of the dead ball situations.

In those opening minutes, FC Platinum managed to get some decent possession but could not make any in-roads inside the Esperance half.

The longer the half grew, Esperance started to enjoy some in-roads down the wings as they bypassed the congested central areas.

The home side finally broke the deadlock in the 24th minute through Khenissi after some sloppy defending from the Zimbabweans.

A cross was flighted from the right which the FC Platinum defence should have dealt with quite easily.

There were at least four greens shirts inside the box when the cross came in but they all dithered to clear the danger.

Khenissi reacted fast to pounce on the loose ball before firing in a rising shot that hit the roof of Petros Mhari’s net.

After conceding, FC Platinum did not crumble and continued with their passing game but getting into the Esperance final third proved difficult.

The best chance Pure Platinum Play got to test the home side’s goalkeeper Rami Jeridi in the first period came in the 31st minute when Ben Mohamed fouled Gift Mbweti inside his own half.

This gave Pure Platinum Play a chance to send their big defenders into the box and what was only left was a good delivery from the dead ball.

Elvis Moyo’s free kick was long and high towards the far post and a waste for the visitors but Jeridi somehow failed to gather the ball as he allowed it to go out for a corner kick.

From the resultant set-piece, FC Platinum could not get anything as the visitors were penalised for pushing inside the box.

The second half started in a similar fashion as the first with both sides taking turns to dominate possession.

However, the Blood and Gold made FC Platinum pay again for some sloppy defending 20 minutes in when Khenissi completed his brace.

The visitors failed to deal with Ben Mohamed’s corner kick that went to the far post where Franck Kom headed it across goal.

Khenissi was at the right spot at the right time to win the second header ahead of Mhari, who had come off his line to try and bail out his defence.

It was another sloppy goal to concede for the visitors as they got plenty of time to clear the corner kick but their defenders were ball watching.

Facing such high-calibre opponents in an important competition as the African Champions League means that you need to be fully concentrated at all times.         

With a two-goal cushion, Esperance just managed the game as they kept all the possession with FC Platinum failing to get any in-roads into the opponents’ half.

Mapeza tried to inject some fire power in his attack when he introduced striker Albert Eondo for midfielder Rainsome Pavari with 20 minutes to go.

The move did not yield any results as Esperance held onto the lead for their first win of the competition.

TEAMS

Esperance: Rami Jeridi, Chamseddine Dhaouadi, Ayman Ben Mohamed, Sameh Derbali, Hamdou Elhouni, Franck Kom, Khalil Chamam, Yassine Khenissi, Fousseny Coulibaly,  Youcef Belaili, Anice Badri

FC Platinum: Petros Mhari, Farai Madhanaga, Devon Chafa, Kelvin Madzongwe, William Stima, Gift Bello, Lawrence Mhlanga, Rainsome Pavari (Albert Eonde 70m), Elvis Moyo, Gift Mbweti  


 

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