Primeiro Agosto goalkeeper Toni saved two penalties and pulled a string of crucial saves to inspire the Angolans’ steely resistance in holding TP Mazembe 1-1 in Lumbumbashi on Friday.
Five-time African champions TP Mazembe were dumped out of the tournament on away goals rule following a 0-0 draw in the first leg in Luanda six days earlier.
It is the first time ever for Agosto to reach the Champions League semis. Toni first denied Ben Malango from converting his penalty kick on the stroke of halftime, before saving veteran Tresor Mputu’s effort from the penalty spot three minutes after the restart.
It was an afternoon marked by TP Mazembe’s dominant display that was however met by Agosto’s spirited defending, with Toni was beaten just once when Jackson Muleka thrust the hosts ahead 12 minutes into the contest.
Amid a barrage of TP Mazembe raids, Agosto were awarded a freekick just outside the box from which DR Congo striker Mongo Bokamba struck well on 34 minutes to beat a hapless Ivorian goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo and sink his compatriots.
Toni repeated the achievement of the late Orlando Pirates goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa who saved two TP Mazembe penalties at the Stade du TP Mazembe, to kick the Ravens out of the Champions League five years ago.
Primeiro Agosto will now meet Esperance who beat Etoile du Sahel 1-0 away in Sousse in this Tunisian derby showdown and sailed through on a 3-1 aggregate scoreline.
Ivorian midfielder Fousseny Coulibaly struck with just three minutes from time to help Esperance advance to the last four.
After Esperance won 2-1 in the reverse fixture in Rades last weekend, Etoile just needed to win Friday’s encounter 1-0 to progress on the away goals rule, but all semi-final hopes were extinguished when they conceded late.
Coulibaly received a pass from defender Sameh Derbali near the centre line and it whizzed past a couple of Etoile players, before being fired low past goalkeeper Achraf Krir from inside the 18-yard box.
It was Esperance’s second win over Etoile in 10 Caf inter-club matches. To cap Etoile’s unfortunate evening, defender Ammar Jemal was red-carded in stoppage time.
Now, Esperance will go ahead with their push for a first Champions League crown since 2011 and an overall third title.
2014 African champions Setif will now meet the winner between Al-Ahly and Horoya who clash on Saturday in Cairo.
With Wydad determined to overturn the 1-0 defeat they suffered in the first leg away in Algeria, they were predictably on fire but could not find the breakthrough.
Setif goalkeeper Moustapha Zeghba was the star of the show with some breathtaking saves that ensured his side cleared the path into the semi-finals.
Liberian striker William Jebor and Ismail El Haddad had a busy night in which they found Zeghba unyielding.
Just like the brave show wedged by Primeiro Agosto on TP Mazembe a few hours earlier, Setif's spirited resistance saw their goalkeeper emerge as the hero much like Agosto's Toni.
If Al-Ahly win on Saturday, three North African sides would be in the last four.