Esteghlal down Al Hilal; Al Sadd go top

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Esteghlal moved two points clear at the top of Group D in the AFC Champions League on Tuesday after beating Al Hilal 1-0.

The only goal of the game at the Al-Seeb Stadium came a minute into the second half when Mame Thiam found space down the left and fired away a low shot, which Abdullah Al-Hafith – in a bid to intercept – could only send it looping into his own goal.

Any hopes of an Al Hilal comeback were then effectively extinguished in the 67th minute when they were reduced to ten men, after goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi was shown a straight red for handling the ball outside the area.

Esteghlal now hold a two-point lead over both Al Ain and Al Rayyan, who played out a 1-1 draw at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium.

It was Al Ain who drew first blood in the 10th minute when Marcus Berg scored from the spot, after Caio had been brought down inside the area by Mohammed Alaaeldin.

But, two minutes before the half-hour mark, Al Rayyan were awarded a spot-kick of their own and Abderrazak Hamdallah duly sent Khalid Eisa the wrong way to salvage a share of the spoils for his side.

Over in Group C, Al Sadd made it two wins in a row as they recorded an impressive 3-1 triumph over last year’s semi-finalists Persepolis at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium.

For the second week running, Baghdad Bounedjah was the star for the Qatari outfit as his brace put them firmly in control of proceedings, before Boulalem Khoukhi lashed home a third to seal the win in the 66th minute.

Nonetheless, Persepolis did grab a consolation deep into injury-time when Siamak Nemati capitalised on Al Sadd’s failure to clear their lines to clinically fire into the bottom corner.

Finally, Group C’s other match saw Igor Golban net the only goal of the match to hand FC Nasaf a 1-0 victory over Al Wasl.