Lokomotiv Tashkent bounced back strongly from their opening AFC Champions League defeat with a rock-solid 2-0 victory over UAE powerhouse Al Ahli.
Group A: Lokomotiv 2-0 Al Ahli
The Uzbeki side lost their Group A opener at Al-Taawon a week ago, but were not to be denied in front of their home fans at Lokomotiv Stadium on Monday.
The 2016 quarter-finalists took the lead via the second fastest goal in AFC Champions League history, as midfielder Salamat Kutibaev headed home Marat Bikmaev’s cross from the left wing in under 18 seconds.
Al Ahli mounted a strong comeback after that early shock, but were kept out on several occasions by Lokomotiv keeper Ignatiy Nesterov, allowing the hosts to seal the victory three minutes before the hour mark when Bikmaev latched onto a pass from Sardor Mirzayev and fired the ball into the net.
Group A: Esteghlal 3-0 Al Taawoun
Former two-time champions Esteghlal of Iran picked up their first win of the 2017 campaign as they thumped Saudi Arabia’s Al Taawoun 3-0.
Esteghlal took the lead in under a minute after the Al Taawoun backline failed to clear a long throw-in. The ball bounced kindly for Kaveh Rezaei, who threaded the needle through several defenders to score.
It took nearly 70 minutes for the second goal to arrive thanks to another defensive error from the visitors, this time following a long free-kick into the box. Mohsen Karimi was on hand to finish from close range after Jaber Ansari mishit his initial attempt.
Brazilian defender Leandro Padovani headed home his side’s third two minutes from time to leave all four teams in Group A locked on three points after the first two rounds of fixtures.
Group B: Al Jazira 0-1 Esteghal Khouzestan
Iranian debutants Esteghlal Khouzestan made it two wins from two as they picked up the day’s only away victory at Al Jazira.
There was another fast goal at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium, as Khouzestan snatched the lead in only the second minute of the match.
The home fans were left stunned when Aloys Nong slotted home following a move that started with Peyman Shirzadi’s throw-in from the left. The lofted throw-in was flicked on by Arash Afshin to Hassan Beit Saeid, who picked out the goalscorer.
Al Jazira had their chances to grab an equaliser, particularly when Musallem Fayez headed against the woodwork in the second half, but the visitors held on to consign their Emirati opponents to a second straight defeat.
Group B: Al Fateh 2-2 Lekhwiya
Nam Tae-hee snatched a valuable point for Lekhwiya at Prince Abdullah Bin Jalawi Stadium, as the Qatari side battled back to earn a 2-2 draw against Al Fateh in Al-Hasa.
The visitors took the lead through a Youssef El Arabi header in the 19th minute, but Al Fateh hit back strongly to take the lead via goals from Nathan Junior and Sayyaf Al Bishi. Junior converted from the penalty spot shortly before the break and Sayyaf Al Bishi made it 2-1 for the Saudis with a close range strike in the 56th minute.
But with time running out, Korea Republic midfielder Nam connected sweetly with a volley from just inside the area to snatch what could turn out to be a vital draw.