Al Ahli stay perfect; Zob Ahan off the mark

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Al Ahli made it two wins in a row in the 2018 AFC Champions League on Monday after claiming a 2-1 Group A win over Al Jazira at the King Abdullah Sports City.

It took the Saudi giants just ten minutes to break the deadlock when Taisir Al-Jassim was left in space on the edge of the box, and went on to unleash an effort that crept past Ali Khasif at his near post.

Al Ahli then doubled their lead in the 70th minute as Muhannad Asiri sent Khasif the wrong way from the penalty spot, after Housain Al-Mogahwi had been tripped by Yaqoub Al-Hosani inside the area.

Al Jazira did pull one back with a minute remaining when Ali Mabkhout’s deflected shot came back off the bar and deflected off the luckless Yaseer Al-Mosailem into his own goal, although it proved to be little more than a mere consolation for the Emirati outfit.

Elsewhere in Group A, Al Gharafa got their campaign up and running with a 3-0 win over Tractorsazi Tabriz at the Thani bin Jassim Stadium.

Iranian striker Mehdi Taremi was an absolute nightmare for his compatriots, opening the scoring in the 11th minute with a thumping header from an Othman Al-Yahri cross.

Taremi then played a pivotal role in his side’s second ten minutes later, winning possession just outside the opposition area and forcing Sime Gregor to bundle the ball into the back of his own net.

And, deep into injury-time, the Iran international competed the rout when he pounced on a loose ball inside the box and clinically dispatched a shot past Jordi.

Over in Group B, Zob Ahan also picked up their first points of the tournament as they beat Lokomotiv Tashkent 2-0.

Following a goalless first half at the Foolad Shahr Stadium, Morteza Tabrizi put the Iranian hosts ahead two minutes after the restart when he timed his run to perfection to nod home a freekick from close range.

And, in the second minute of injury-time, Mohammad Reza Hosseini wrapped things up as he capitalised on a botched clearance attempt by Cho Seok-jae to lash an effort past Ignatiy Nesterov.

Finally, Monday’s final game saw Al Duhail maintain their perfect record in Group B with a 3-2 triumph over Al Wahda at the Zayed Sports City Stadium.

It was Al Wahda who initially took the lead courtesy of Sebastian Tagliabue’s fourth-minute opener, although Youssef El-Arabi equalised for the visitors three minutes before the hour mark.

Karim Boudiaf then fired the Qatari side ahead in the 75th minute and El-Arabi grabbed his second of the evening five minutes later with what was ultimately the winner, although Mourad Batna did reduce the deficit deep into injury-time.

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