CAIRO: Holders Al Ahly and last year’s beaten finalists Esperance strengthened their chances of reaching this year’s African Champions League semi-finals with home wins in their respective group matches.

Egypt’s Al Ahly moved to seven points from four matches with a 2-1 win over AC Leopards of Congo in their Group A tie while Esperance won a third game in Group B by beating Sewe Sport of the Ivory Coast 1-0 in Tunisia.

Antar Yahia’a 57th minute goal put Esperance ahead in the standings on nine points, three above Cameroon’s Coton Sport who play in Angola in the four-team group on Sunday.

Ahli won in extreme heat at El Gouna, where Egypt’s two teams in the competition have been ordered to play their home games by security officials, anxious to avoid large crowds at stadiums in the country’s major centres amid civil unrest.

Abdallah Said scored at the end of a 37th minute counter attack followed by a second from Walid Soliman midway through the second half.

In between Ahly goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy saved a penalty from Ulrich Nzamba but was finally beaten in the 85th minute by Sidione Beauilla.

The match was due to be played behind closed doors but the decision was overturned to allow Ahly fans into the 3,000 capacity stadium.

Rioting among the Ahli ‘ultras’ delayed the start by 25 minutes before ordered was restored.

On Sunday, Group A leaders Orlando Pirates, who have seven points from three matches, visit a Zamalek side adrift at the bottom with only one point at the same venue.

The winners and runners-up in the two groups go through to the semi-finals.