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Orlando Pirates v ES Tunis Match Report, 02/02/2019

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Orlando Pirates 0-0 Esperance de Tunis: Blunt Bucs held by defending champions in Soweto
20:54 GMT 02/02/2019
Ayman Ben Mohamed of Esperance challenged by Ben Motshwari of Orlando Pirates, February 2019
The Buccaneers were frustrated by the Blood and Gold, who were happy to settle for a draw on the night

Orlando Pirates and Esperance de Tunis played to a 0-0 draw in the Caf Champions League match which was played in Soweto on Saturday.

The Buccaneers were hoping to return to winning ways after being booted out of the Nedbank Cup following a surprise defeat to Black Leopards in the round of 32 last weekend.

Wayne Sandilands, Marshall Munetsi and Ben Motshwari all returned to the starting with Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic making three changes to the team that took on Leopards.

Their visitors, Esperance, were coming off a narrow 1-0 victory over AS Gabes in the Tunisian Cup encounter which was played on Tuesday.

Prolific forwards Youcef Belaili, Anice Badri and Taha Yassine Khenissi all started up front as head coach Mouine Chaabani adopted an offensive approach.

Both teams had recorded their maiden wins in the group stages in the previous round with Pirates thrashing Guinea's Horoya AC 3-0, while Esperance beat Zimbabwean side FC Platinum 2-0.

The Buccaneers dominated possession in the opening stages of the game with Justin Shonga looking to continue his goalscoring form having netted three goals in as many matches for the home side.

The Zambian forward unleashed a powerful shot which narrowly missed the target following a good move by the home side.

Pirates were all over Esperance from the start, but they were struggling to create clear-cut chances with the experienced Chamseddine Dhaouadi working hard in the visitors' final third.

The Blood and Gold took control of the game towards the end of the first half, but they had the possession in areas where they were not able to hurt the Buccaneers.

The score was 0-0 at half-time with Pirates, who were without their inspirational captain Happy Jele, having kept the defending champions at bay.

The visitors' defence continued to frustrate the Bucs attackers, and Sredojevic decided to introduce Augustine Mulenga as the hosts looked to break the deadlock.

Mulenga's pace and trickery gave Esperance all sorts of problems, but still, nothing came out of it as the scoreboard remained unchanged.   

Pirates, who came into the clash having netted the majority of their goals (23.1%) in the final 15 minutes of their Champions League games this season, attacked in numbers during this period.

However, Esperance shot-stopper Rami Jridi made late saves to deny both Mulenga and Innocent Maela, ensuring that the encounter ended in a 0-0 draw.

Despite the draw, Pirates remained at the top of the standings, while Esperance also remained second on the table.