El Jaish edge Al Nasr to advance to semi-finals

A 1-0 victory for Qatar’s El Jaish over Al Nasr of the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday proved more than enough to see them through to the semi-finals of the AFC Champions League.

Al Nasr were always facing a huge battle after their 3-0 victory in the first leg of the tie was annulled due to the club fielding an ineligible player.

El Jaish were handed a 3-0 result instead, and their 1-0 victory in the second leg ultimately saw them complete a 4-0 aggregate victory.

Nothing less than a blistering start would have seen Al Nasr overturn such a large deficit, but it was not to be.

The Emirati side struggled to hit their stride early, and it was the away team who looked more likely to score.

Seydou Keita nearly opened El Jaish’s account with a well-placed header in the fifth minute, and four minutes later they did have their opener.

Brazilian striker Romarinho was the hero for his side, smashing a powerful volley past the outstretched Ahmad Shambih after being set up by Keita, who had made the initial surge through the midfield before delivering a beautiful lofted pass into the path of the former Corinthians striker.

That left Al Nasr needing a minor miracle, although in many ways the reversal of the first leg result had already killed off their chances, with Romarinho’s strike merely serving as the final nail in the coffin.

To their credit, Al Nasr kept playing, and Abdelaziz Barrada and Jires Kembo-Ekoko both came close to scoring at the end of the first half – Barrada with a header and Kembo-Ekoko with a clipped shot moments later.

Salem Saleh also hit the woodwork shortly after the break following a audacious scissor kick, and was just wide with a header midway through the half.

The 25-year-old forward should have at least salvaged a draw in the dying moments of the match, but he could only hit it straight at the goalkeeper from point blank range as El Jaish comfortably advanced to the semi-finals, where they will take on two-time AFC Champions League finalists Al Ain.