It was honours even between Air Force Club and Al Zawraa in the first leg of their AFC Cup West Asia Zonal Semi-final on Monday, as the two teams played out to a 1-1 draw.
In the first continental match to be played in Iraq since 2013, a 66th minute strike from Alaa Mhawi handed Al Zawraa the surprise lead, before hosts and defending AFC Cup champions Air Force Club equalised 10 minutes later thanks to Amjed Radhi.
— AFC Cup (@AFCCup) May 22, 2017
The first 45 minutes were goalless, and even though Air Force Club looked slightly the better of the two sides at the Franso Hariri Stadium, it was Al Zawraa who came closest to scoring in the dying moments of the half. Alaa Abdul Zahra played in Amjed Kalaf, who could have done better but fired wide from 15 yards out.
Al Zawraa did take the lead on 66 minutes following a corner played in from the right. Goalkeeper Fahad Talib was forced to punch the ball out, but only managed to lay it up for substitute Mhawi, who fired home from the edge of the area.
It needed a response from the reigning champions, and they found it when Emad Mohsin’s header across goal was diverted into the back of the net by Radhi from close range 14 minutes from time.
The two teams will meet in the second leg in seven days’ time, with the winner going on to face Syria’s Al Wahda or Al Wehdat of Jordan.