By Adeboye Amosu:
Nigerian champions Enyimba are through to the group stages of the CAF Champions League despite a spirited fightback by Tunisian side, Etoile du Sahel, reports Completesportsnigeria.com.
The Peoples Elephant surrendered their 3-0 first leg advantage, losing by the same scoreline, but scaled through 4-3 on penalties.
The Sousse-based side scored the opening goal through Hamza Lahmar in the 42nd minute.
The club’s Brazilain import Costa made it 3-2 on aggregate on 62 minutes to boost his side hopes of advancing to the next round.
Costa scored his second goal of the game in the 71st minute to bring the tie to 3-3 on aggregate.
The Peoples Elephant frustrated the hosts with their resolute defending in the early parts of the game.
Etoile players poured forward looking to reduce the deficit and won a number of corner kicks in the opening 20 minutes, but were let down by their poor marksmanship in front of goal.
The North Africans came close to scoring the opening goal in the eighth minute, but Theophilus Afelokhai denied them by making a brilliant save from a powerful header.
Afelokhai was particularly in fantastic form as he stood between the Tunisians and a goal in the game.
The former Kano Pillars keeper made another big save in the 32nd minute as he tipped a goal-bound shot over the bar.
He was however unable to prevent Etoile from grabbing the first goal of the game three minutes before the break with Lahmar’s free kick at the edge of the box going straight into the net.
The pattern of the game continued in the second half with the home side attacking from all fronts and Enyimba sitting deep.
Costa fired home a close range header to send the home side into wild jubilations and set the tone for a dramatic end to the game.
The Brazilian levelled scores in the 71st minute, firing home a shot from inside the box.
Christian Pygbara wasted a glorious chance to pull a goal back for Enyimba when he shot wide following a one-on-one situation with Etoile’s goalkeeper.
Enyimba are joined in the group phase by Zamelek of Egypt, Zambia’s Zesco United and Algerian outfit, Entente Setif.
Other teams who are still left in the competition are Wydad Casablanca of Morocco who bundled out defending champions TP Mazembe, Ivorien side Asec Mimosas who will be playing in the group stages since 2008, AS Vita of Congo Democratic Republic and Egyptian giants, Al Ahly.