Two goals by veteran midfielder Walid Soliman and a strike by Amr Al-Sulaya saw Al-Ahly beat Esperance in the first leg final of the Caf Champions League played at Borg El-Arab Stadium on Friday.
The Egyptians gave themselves a chance at success in a match in which VAR stole the limelight, but need to maintain their lead in the return leg next week.
Three of the night's four goals came from from the penalty spot, and Soliman put two goals past the Tunisians in order to bring his tally to four goals in three games for Al-Ahly, who are now close to claiming a ninth Champions League title.
Predictably, the match was a dramatic affair with Soliman starting as a threat for the visitors, inviting Esperance goalkeeper Moez Ben Cherifia to make a brilliant save, before thrusting Al-Ahly ahead from the penalty spot on 34 minutes.
This was after Ben Cherifia had brought down Walid Azarou inside the box and it took VAR to confirm the penalty after a prolonged delay in making the decision.
Esperance then attempted to claw their way back into the game with Ghilane Chalali agonisingly being denied by the crossbar to mark a 1-0 halftime scoreline in favour of the hosts.
After the restart, Al-Sulaya doubled Al-Ahly's advantage in the 58th minute following a defensive blunder with Soliman deeply involved in the goal with a cross on a night that was going his way and his team's.
However, Algerian striker Mohamed Belaili would then reduce the deficit for the visitors from the penalty spot six minutes later after he was fouled by Al-Ahly goalkeeper Mohamed El Shennawy.
Soliman was again on target from the spot with just over 10 minutes to go, ensuring that Al-Ahly held on to a two goal advantage.
Again, Algerian referee Mehdi Abid Charef had to consult VAR before awarding the spot kick and it was again Azarou who won the penalty fotr Al-Ahly.
The return leg would be played on November 9 at the Stade Olympique de Rades with Al-Ahly having edged closer to a ninth Champions League title, while Esperance are hoping for an epic turnaround on home turf.