Al Ahli strike late against Istiklol to qualify for group stages of AFC Champions League 2020

AL Ahli

Al Ahli Saudi FC had to wait until the second-half injury time to defeat FC Istiklol 1-0 and book a place in the group stages of AFC Champions League 2020.

Al Ahli, who had finished last season fourth in the Saudi Professional League, were featuring in the play-off for a shot at ACL 2020 proper and came up against Tajikistan’s Istiklol who had progressed from Preliminary Round 2 after defeating Lokomotiv Tashkent 1-0 last week.

It was a neck-and-neck contest at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah with the home side enjoying the majority of the possession, but they were left frustrated by the backline of the Tajik League outfit for the lion share of the game.

The turning point of the play-off came in the 89th minute of the game when Istiklol’s Victor Svezhov conceded a penalty and was sent off for a foul on Hussain Al-Moqahwi.

Al Ahli’s Algerian winger Youcef Belaïli stepped up to take the penalty and converted it to sent the Saudi giants through to the group stages of ACL 2020.

They will now begin their AFC Champions League campaign in Group A where they are joined by UAE Pro-League side Al Wahda FC, Iraq’s Al Shorta FC and IR Iran’s Esteghlal FC, who also came through the qualifiers by defeating Qatar’s Al Rayyan SC 5-0 earlier in the day.