Pirates go down to African champions in Tunisia

Cape Town - Orlando Pirates came unstuck in continental competition when they went down 2-0 away to Tunisian giants Esperance in a CAF Champions League group stage encounter on Tuesday.

The hosts struck a goal in each half to condemn Pirates to their first defeat in this season's tournament and throw Group B wide open.

The home team came out guns blazing and tested visiting keeper Wayne Sandilands as early as the sixth minute.

Esperance though took the lead 10 minutes later when the Buccaneers defence went to sleep and allowed Youcef Belaili to pick out Anice Badri from a set-piece with the forward making no mistake putting ball into the back of the net.

Pirates were finding it difficult to get into the game as Sandilands came to their rescue a few times while Alfred Ndengane was also forced to clear off the line.

Esperance, who are the defending champions of the competition, were again denied by Sandilands on the stroke of half-time as the South African side were relieved to go into the interval only trailing by a single goal.

The visitors brought on striker Thamsanqa Gabuza for the second stanza looking to give them more bite upfront while fellow attackers Justin Shonga and Kudakwashe Mahachi also came off the bench.

It was the current African champions, however, that kept giving Sandilands more work and the pressure eventually told when substitute Haythem Jouini made sure that all three points will stay in Tunisia when he tapped into an empty net after Badri lobbed Sandilands from the left flank.

The result sees Esperance take control of Group B as they go top with eight points from four matches with Pirates on five points after the same amount of games.

Third-placed Horoya are set to face Zimbabwe FC Platinum later on Wednesday with the hosts knowing a victory will propel them into second place in the group.