TUNIS – Orlando Pirates went down 2-0 to a rampant Esperance in their Caf Champions League Group B match in Tunis, Tunisia, on Tuesday afternoon.
Fresh from a 1-1 draw against Kaizer Chiefs in the Soweto Derby at the weekend, Pirates found Esperance to be a far more attacking outfit than the one that settled for a point in a goalless draw against them in Johannesburg on February 2.
Pirates’ Achilles Heel of being suspect in defending against set-pieces came back to haunt them, as they were found wanting in the 16th minute when wing Youcef Belaili fired in a low free kick.
Striker Anice Badri took advantage of a flat-footed Pirates defence to score at the far post.
The Buccaneers could well have been two or three goals down after the first 30 minutes, as the hosts piled on the pressure.
Pirates goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands was forced to clear several dangerous attacks, while on one occasion, the ball was cleared off his goal-line by some desperate Pirates defending.
To their credit, Pirates tried hard to get back into the match in the second half, with Thembinkosi Lorch and Zambian attacker Justin Shonga attempting to break down the home team’s rearguard.
However, Esperance put the result beyond doubt a minute before the final whistle when striker Haythem Jouini scored from close range, with Sandilands and his defence well beaten in terms of positioning.
The win sent Esperance to the top of the Group B standings with eight points from four games, with Pirates – who had been log leaders – now relegated to second spot on five points from four outings.
Pirates will now turn their attention to the business of the Absa Premiership, as they prepare for an away clash against SuperSport United next Wednesday.
Their next Champions League group commitment will be a home outing against Zimbabwean outfit Platinum FC on March 8.
FT || @ESTuniscom 2-0 @orlandopirates. No joy for the Bucs as they leave Tunisia in defeat for the 1st time against their hosts. Lots to think about ahead of the next game as this result throws things wide open in Group B
☠️☠️☠️☠️#CAFCL #OnceAlways pic.twitter.com/3DKrXyPSuG
— Orlando Pirates FC (@orlandopirates) February 12, 2019
— CAF (@CAF_Online) February 12, 2019
African News Agency (ANA)