Title-holders TP Mazembe found the going tougher than expected before qualifying Sunday for the African Champions League last-16 at the expense of Saint George.
The DR Congo outfit, whose triumph last season was their fifth in the premier African club competition, took 85 minutes at home to score the only second-leg goal against the Ethiopians.
A successful Jonathan Bolingi penalty kick earned a Mazembe side saturated with stars from numerous countries a 1-0 win on the day and a 3-2 victory on aggregate.
Despite the second-leg dominance of the hosts at the 20,000-seat Stade Mazembe in mining hub Lubumbashi, they could not overcome the dogged resistance of the Addis Ababa club.
Coached by Dutchman Mart Nooij, the ‘Saints’ were expected to crumble in southern DR Congo after coming from behind to force a 2-2 first-leg draw last weekend.
And as long as the return match remained goalless, there was always the possibility of the Ethiopian club snatching a goal and pulling off what would have been a sensational success.
Mazembe, seeking this year to win back-to-back Champions League titles for a record third time, face former champions Wydad Casablanca of Morocco during April.
The other DR Congo challengers, 2014 runners-up AS Vita Club, also had to sweat before progressing through a 1-1 draw at Mozambican railways club Ferroviario Maputo.
Vita Club, who created a smaller than anticipated 1-0 first-leg advantage in Kinshasa, endured some anxious moments in south-east Africa before Mukoko Batezadio scored a minute into stoppage time.
There was still time for ‘Diogo’ to equalise, but it was Vita Club who booked a round-of-16 date with Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa.
Algeria are another country who will have two clubs among the 16 survivors after 2014 champions ES Setif and debutants Mouloudia Bejaia achieved contrasting victories.
An early goal from Central African Republic star Eudes Dagoulou set up Setif for a 4-2 home victory over Etoile du Congo, who were always on the back foot after being held 1-1 in Republic of Congo.
Bejaia ground out a 2-0 win over Tunisian visitors Club Africain to shade the North African showdown 2-1 overall.
Senegalese Mohamed Ndoye converted a penalty just before the hour to nudge Mouloudia ahead and Morgan Petrongal scored the tie-deciding second goal six minutes later.
Al Ahli Tripoli of Libya, Asec Mimosas of Ivory Coast, Stade Malien of Mali and Zesco United of Zambia also advanced to the final qualifying round before the eight-club group draw.
Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE
Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/TheNationalSport