Al Ahli remain unbeaten as Nasaf stun Al Sadd

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Al Ahli remain undefeated in Group A of the 2018 AFC Champions League after playing out a 1-1 draw with Al Gharafa at the Thani bin Jassim Stadium.

Al Ahli, who entered Monday’s game with a maximum six points from their opening two games, were initially on course for another victory when they took the lead in the 62nd minute.

A short corner routine paid dividends for the visitors as Ageel Balghaith was left unmarked after an excellent late run into the box, and made no mistake in meeting Taisir Al-Jassim’s cross with a glancing header into the back of the net.

However, in the first minute of injury-time, Rubert Quijada ventured forward to net on the rebound after his initial header had come back off the post, earning Al Gharafa a share of the spoils in the process.

Over at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium, Al Jazira were held to a 0-0 draw by Tractor Sazi, leaving the former tentatively ahead of Al Gharafa in second spot based on their head-to-head record while the Iranians are firmly rooted to the bottom.

Meanwhile, in Group C, Persepolis – last season’s semi-finalists – got back to winning ways as they recorded a 2-0 triumph over Al Wasl, who remain without a point from three outings.

Farshad Ahmadzadeh got Persepolis on their way at the Azadi Stadium in the 36th minute when he lashed home from close range at the back post, after Jalal Hosseini had flicked on Hossein Mahini’s long throw into his path.

Five minutes later, Ali Alipour netted the second goal to make sure of the victory when he scored from the penalty spot, having been brought down inside the box by opposition keeper Yousif Al-Zaabi.

Finally, Al Sadd, who had entered Monday with a 100 per cent record from the opening two matches, finally tasted defeat as they were stunned 1-0 by FC Nasaf.

Following a goalless first half at the Qarshi Markaziy Stadium, Azizjon Ganiev grabbed the winner when he converted a 62nd-minute penalty into the bottom corner, after Bobir Abdixolikov had been dragged down in the area by Salem Al-Hajri.

At the halfway point of the group stage, Persepolis, Al Sadd and Nasaf are all tied on six points, while Al Wasl are already facing an uphill task in their bid to reach the Round of 16.