Striker Mamadou Coulibaly scored the winner three minutes from recess to steer the 2009 winners, which finished the game with ten men after defender Ibrahim Keita was sent off just before half time, for their first win at the group stage.
The result keeps Esperance at the bottom of the standings and leaves their ambitions of a place at the last four hanging on a thread. Also in doubt is the future of French coach, Jose Anigo, whose tenure has seen the ‘Blood and Gold’ failed to win a point at the continental level.
The Malians who played the entire second half with a man less made their numerical disadvantage count for little, matching their hosts squarely in all departments.
On five minutes, Mamadou Fofana set up captain Sissoko to connect past a hapless Moez Ben Cherifia for the opener.
The hosts bounced back and six minutes later Ben Youssef capped his debut for the Tunis-based side with a goal, finishing off an assist from Houcine Ragued.
Barely 60 seconds to the break, the visitors were dealt a major blow following a second yellow card to Keita, who had earlier been booked for an avoidable foul on 27 minutes.
With a man down, it was Stade Malien who went up three minutes after the break from a Boubacar Bangoura defence-splitting pass, which found Coulibaly, who slid past Ben Cherifia.
Esperance took the game to their guests and were denied by young goalie Djigui Diarra who made a firm save off Driss Mhirsi’s goal bound shot on 58 minutes.
As the game wore on, Haithem Jouini and Ghilane Chalali were introduced, but their presence could barely aid their side’s quest for the equalizer.
After three games, the two-time African champions are left at the bottom of the group without a point. Stade Malien has four points, two points shy of second place Etoile du Sahel also from Tunisia. Holders, Al Ahly of Egypt sit at the top with seven points.
25.07.2015 19H00 Al Ahly (Egypt) 1-0 Etoile du Sahel (Tunisia)
25.07.2015 19H45 Esperance (Tunisia) 1-2 Stade Malien (Mali)
26.07.2015 19H30 Zamalek (Egypt) vs AC Leopards (Congo)
26.07.2015 20H30 CS Sfaxien (Tunisia) vs Orlando Pirates (South Africa)
*All times are in local time