Wayne Sandilands of Orlando Pirates made a string of superb saves to restrict trophy-holders Esperance to a 2-0 victory in Tunis Tuesday in a CAF Champions League group match.
Anice Badri, the leading scorer with eight goals when the Tunisian outfit won the elite African club competition last year, opened the scoring after 16 minutes.
But the brilliance of recently recalled veteran Sandilands kept the South African side in with a chance of snatching a draw until substitute Haythem Jouini netted on 89 minutes.
Esperance would not have been flattered by a six-goal triumph such was their superiority in the top-of-the-table Group B clash at an empty Stade el Menzah in the Tunisian capital.
The hosts were forced to play behind closed doors because of a two-game ban after crowd trouble during matches last season when Esperance became African champions a third time.
Sandilands foiled Taha Yassine Khenissi (twice), Ghailene Chaalali and Mohamed Yacoubi as the north Africans dominated play from start to finish in windy, partly cloudy conditions.
So complete was the control exerted by the Tunisian club, who celebrated their 100th birthday last month, that Pirates did not have a goal attempt on target until stoppage time.
Esperance top the group with seven points from four matches, Pirates have five, Horoya AC of Guinea four and FC Platinum of Zimbabwe one.
Horoya have home advantage over Platinum in Conakry later Tuesday and maximum points for the west Africans would lift them above Pirates into second spot.
- Sloppy defending -
Pirates, playing a second major match within four days after drawing with arch domestic rivals Kaizer Chiefs last Saturday, fell behind due to sloppy defending of a free-kick.
They assumed the set-piece would be floated into the goalmouth, but Algerian Youcef Belaili passed to Badri instead and the Tunisian fired across Sandilands into the far corner.
Khenissi, Chaalali and centre-back Yacoubi were thwarted by Sandilands before Jouini tapped in a Badri cross to put the result beyond doubt.
Elsewhere, Simba SC of Tanzania bounced back from two five-goal Group D hidings to edge record eight-time African champions Al Ahly of Egypt 1-0 in Dar es Salaam.
Rwandan Meddie Kagere scored the match-winner on 65 minutes in the Indian Ocean city to bring the local club back into the contention for a top-two finish and a last-eight place.
The result marked a dramatic turnaround for multi-national Simba -- back in the group stage of the Champions League after a 16-year absence -- following a 5-0 away drubbing from Ahly.
It was the second visit by the Cairo Red Devils to east Africa this season and a second 1-0 loss in the region having fallen to Jimma Aba Jifar of Ethiopia in a qualifier.
Before Simba were humiliated in Egypt, they were crushed 5-0 by former champions V Club of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Kinshasa.
Ahly remain group leaders with seven points while Simba have six, V Club four and JS Saoura of Algeria, who host the Congolese later Tuesday, two.