Away goal gives Esperance upper hand in CAF Champions League final
A 79th minute headed goal from Cheick Comara gave ten man Wydad some hope after being outplayed for much of the first leg by current holders Esperance Tunis.
Wydad-Esperance: CAF Champions League final (first leg): as it happened
Wydad-Esperance: CAF Champions League final (first leg): preview
Two giants of African football come head to head tonight in Rabat as the 2017 winners Wydad Casablanca face current holders Esperance Sportive de Tunis in the first leg of the CAF Champions League 18-19.
Rabat's Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium is the venue for the biggest game in domestic African football with Casablanca's Mohamed V Stadium currently undergoing refurbishment.
This will not be the first CAF Champions League final meeting between the North African giants with Wydad looking to avenge the 2011 win when the Tunisian side overcame in a 1-0 aggregate win.
Both teams top their respective domestic leagues with Wydad top of the Botola Pro with two games remaining in the campaign as Esperance top the Tunisian Ligue 1 table a comfortable eight points ahead of second place Etoile de Sahel.
Ahead of the first leg both coaches spoke about the final analyzing each side's prospect:
Faouzi Benzarti (Head Coach, Wydad):
"We believe in our chances to win the title. We have good players and we are mentally and physically ready to fight. It is a derby match, and it will be decided by simple details. We have worked so hard on these details.
Generally, the matches between teams from the two countries are difficult, especially if it is a final. I think we have got good relations; the game will pass in good conditions.
Esperance have a strong team, I respect and appreciate them. They have a group of outstanding players, who have played together for several seasons. They know me well, they know my style, and I know them well."
Mejdi Traoui (Assistant coach, Esperance)
"It's a derby and you know how difficult it is. Wydad play well and are strong at home, but we believe in our players who are ready to defend our title. It all starts here in the first leg game.
Very simple things can be decisive in a championship's final. We have to concentrate, and we are here to repeat what we did in 2011 when we beat Wydad".