MULWANDA LUPIYA, Levy Mwanawasa Stadium, Ndola ZESCO 1 LIBOLO 0
CONGOLESE forward Idriss Mbombo produced a dazzling performance to steer Zesco United to a resounding win over Recreativo Desportivo do Libolo in a CAF Confederation Cup Group C match to open up a two-point lead.
Zesco have six points, two clear of Smouha and Al Hilal of Sudan.
Al Hilal held Smouha to a 1-1 draw in Alexandria on Saturday night. Libolo are stuck on three points.
Mbombo netted the solitary goal when Dave Daka drove at the heart of Libolo defence before slipping the ball to the Congolese, who nodded it past the Angolan goalkeeper.
Zesco coach Zlatko Krmpotic, who was given compassionate leave to mourn his late father in Serbia, was back on the technical bench.
“Hard game for us. Big pressure for us before the game and conditions not good for the game very hot conditions. I think we did not play very well but I am happy with the three points,” Krmpotic said.
His Libolo counterpart Vaz Pinto attributed the loss to a blunt strike force.
“We played well but we failed to utilize our chances. We hope to make amends in the return leg,” he said.
However, it was Jesse Were who took first aim at goal for Zesco in the 25th minute with a close range shot that hit the upright.
Libolo failed to deal with Zesco’s quick counter-attacks and it wasn’t long before Mbombo struck home nodding in a Dave Daka cross past goalkeeper Mavanga Landu.
The Angolans were on the back foot after Mbombo’s goal and Were almost doubled the lead but dragged his effort wide off a Daka cross.
Namibian referee Jackson Pavaza cautioned Zesco’s Anthony Akumu for a late challenge on Boukama Kaya.
Libolo, who opted to defend very deep in their half, mounted a swift counter-attack but Kaya ballooned his effort wasting their best chance of the match.
The Angolans made a double change in the 55th minute, introducing Wilson Macamo and Sidney Simoes for Hercanio Calenga and Jaime Linares. Zesco withdrew Jackson Mwanza for Lazarus Kambole.
It almost paid off as Dario Cardoso directed a close-range shot straight at Banda.
Mbombo missed a chance to double the lead in the 74th minute when he shot straight at Mavanga.
The match, however, boiled over in the last 10 minutes as Pavaza sent Libolo’s Celson Costa for an early shower for a second bookable offence after a foul on Daka in the 86th minute.
Two minutes later, Akumu was also sent off for a second bookable offence.
The return leg is scheduled for June 20 in Libolo, Angola.