On a pivotal day in the West Zone of the AFC Champions League, Al Hilal and Al Ain recorded vital victories that ensured their futures in the competition.
Pakhtakor 3-0 Al Jazira
In Group C Pakhtakor dished up Al Jazira a 3-0 pasting courtesy of goals from Sukhrob Berdiev, Timur Talipov and Jalaloddin Masharipov.
In a game they needed to win to have any chance of progressing in the competition they showed immense character and concentration.
However, it was not enough to secure the Uzbek side a place in the knockout phase of the competition as Al Hilal’s sensational 2-1 win against the group leaders was enough to ensure that the latter finished second.
— AFC Champions League (@TheAFCCL) May 3, 2016
Tractorsazi Tabriz 1-2 Al Hilal
For Al Hilal, Salem Al Dawsari scored the opener in the 14th minute as Tractorsazi Tabriz started a game they did not need to win in sluggish fashion.
Shortly after half-time though the Iranian club found their feet and drew level through Aloys Nong.
With score stuck at 1-1, Al Hilal went in a desperate search of a winner and that came through Brazilian super sub Aílton Almeida in the 72nd minute.
Al Hilal then sat deep and did extremely well to close-out the game without any major scares.
Group C finished with Tractorsazi at the summit with 12 points, Al Hilal in second with 11 points, Pakhtakor in third with 10 points and Al Jazira in fourth with only one point.
— ???? ?????? ??????? (@Alhilal_FC) May 3, 2016
Al Ahli 2-0 El Jaish
In Group D, a clean-sheet from Basem Al-Baqi and goals from Marquinho and Osama Hawsawi earned Al Ahli a well deserved 2-0 win over group leaders El Jaish.
Already assured of top-spot in the group El Jaish appeared disinterested and gave a poor account of themselves.
On the contrary, with everything to play for, Al Ahli were tenacious and put in a superb performance on the day. A more flattering scoreline in their favour would have been a more appropriate outcome.
Despite winning, they still finished third in the group as Nasaf were unable to prevent Al Ain from gaining three points.
— ?????? ?????? (@ALAHLI_FC) May 3, 2016
Al Ain 2-0 Nasaf
Strikes from Danilo Asprilla and Ismail Ahmed in the 39th and 90th minute respectively ensured Al Ain’s pursuit of their second AFC Champions League title continued.
There was nothing at stake for Nasaf but they still contributed to an entertaining game of football.
Al Ain were not to be denied though. They started the game full of intent as Douglas found the side netting with an attempt inside the opening minute of the fixture.
The club from the United Arab Emirates maintained that intensity throughout the 90 minutes and were full value for the win and their spot in the knock-out stages.
Group D finished with El Jaish top with 10 points, Al Ain in second with 10 points, Pakhtakor in third with nine points and Nasaf in fourth with a tally of five points.
— Al Ain FC (@alainfcae) May 3, 2016