Yassine Chikhaoui scored to give Tunisia’s Etoile du Sahel a 1-0 win over 10-man Al Ahly of Egypt on Friday as the African Champions League group phase kicked off.
The 33-year-old midfielder controlled a long pass with his chest before slamming the ball past goalkeeper Mohamed el Shenawy after 50 minutes in Rades.
Ahly had to play all but 13 minutes of the Group B showdown with 10 men after defender Ayman Ashraf was sent off for a dangerous challenge.
Ayly won more possession than Etoile, despite being a man down, but rarely threatened goalkeeper Achraf Kerir.
When the Cairo club were awarded a late free-kick within scoring distance, defender Ahmed Fathy blazed the ball high and wide.
The clash between two of the most successful clubs in African competitions became increasingly bad tempered as the second half progressed.
Ahly have won a record 19 African competition titles, including the elite Champions League competition a record eight times.
Etoile are the only club to have won all five past and present African competitions: the Champions League, Confederation Cup, Super Cup and the now defunct African Cup Winners Cup and Caf Cup.
Also on Friday, Al Hilal of Sudan survived a late rally by Platinum of Zimbabwe to win the other Group B match-day one fixture 2-1 in Omdurman.
Mohamed Eldai scored both goals for twice Champions League runners-up Hilal before Never Tigere reduced arrears nine minutes from time to create a tense finish.
Eldai had struck on 26 and 70 minutes for Hilal, who were shock winners over twice champions Enyimba of Nigeria in the final qualifying round.
Hilal and Platinum, who also reached the group phase last season in their best previous showing, have a tough task to progress from Group B with Etoile and Ahly expected to advance to the quarter-finals.
Elsewhere, the Group D opener on Friday also proved to be a tense affair with a superb Toufik Addadi goal giving JS Kabylie of Algeria a 1-0 win over AS Vita Club of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Addadi dashed on to a pass and hammered the ball past Vita Club captain and goalkeeper Nelson Lukong from an acute angle on 66 minutes.
The goal ended a 426-minute run by 39-year-old Cameroon-born Lukong without conceding since the Champions League began this season.
Two-time African champions Kabylie deserved the victory as they created more chances.
In the pick of Saturday’s five fixtures, TP Mazembe of DR Congo host Zamalek of Egypt and Raja Casablanca of Morocco are at home to Esperance of Tunisia.
Defending champions Esperance are seeking a record third consecutive title and fifth overall.