Nigerian Samuel Eduok’s first half strike earned the ‘Blood and Gold’ their first win at the group phase, and an end to a three-match losing streak.
The Group A Day Four clash was played in two days after the initial contest on Sunday afternoon was suspended at the 49th minute, after heavy rains made the pitch at the Modibo Keita Stadium unplayable.
With two matches remaining, the two-time African champions still have a chance to qualify as one of the top two sides from the group despite six points off leaders, Etoile du Sahel, also from Tunisia. Holders Al Ahly of Egypt are in second place with seven points and Stade Malien in that order with four points.
Esperance face a dicey test against Ahly in a fortnight in Rades before traveling to the Mediterranean resort city of Sousse as guests of local rival, Etoile in the ultimate group fixture in mid-September.
Stade Malien got off well in their quest to complete a double over the Tunisian with Boubacar Bangoura and Mamadou Coulibaly coming close in the opening minutes. Bangoura’s acute angled shot was deflected into the side-net by Esperance goalie Sami Helal after less than five minutes of play before Helal punched away Coulibaly’s goal bound long range effort minutes later.
The visitors soon began to warm themselves into the game and on 24 minutes, Eduok finished off a headed flick from Fakhreddine Ben Youssef, firing past onrushing Djigui Diarra for the only goal of the match.
The rain soon began to pour and four minutes after the break play had to be suspended due to the unplayable nature of the pitch.
With 41 minutes to play, Esperance held on to claim victory despite ending the game with six players in the caution book of referee Victor Gomes from South Africa. Helal, Edouk, Ben Youssef, Ali Machani, Wassim Naghmouchi and Iheb Mbarki were all booked at various points.
8.8.2015 21H00 Etoile du Sahel (Tunisia) 1-0 Al Ahly (Egypt)
10.8.2015 16H30 Stade Malien (Mali) 0-1 Esperance (Tunisia)
8.8.2015 20H15 Orlando Pirates (South Africa) 2-0 CS Sfaxien (Tunisia)
9.8.2015 15H30 AC Leopards (Congo) 1-0 Zamalek (Egypt)