Al Duhail through to Round of 16; Al Hilal still struggling

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Al Duhail are through to the AFC Champions League Round of 16 after recording a dramatic 2-1 win over Lokomotiv Tashkent on Monday.

Just three days after securing a second consecutive Qatar Stars League title, there was more joy for Duhail as they assured themselves of a top-two finish in Group B of the Champions League.

Having claimed back-to-back wins in their opening three matches, it initially looked as though they would be denied when Sardor Rashidov opened the scoring at the Lokomotiv Stadium for the hosts in the 35th minute.

But, in a remarkable revival at the death, Youssef El-Arabi equalised for Duhail in the first minute of injury-time, before netting again right at the death to win it for the visitors.

The result means Duhail can now finish no lower than second in the group following Al Wahda’s surprise 3-0 triumph over Zob Ahan.

After both sides failed to find the breakthrough in the opening 45, the previously-winless Wahda stepped it up a notch as goals from Sebastian Tagliabue (46’), Mourad Batna (57’) and Mohamed Al-Akbari (65’) handed them an impressive win.

Meanwhile, 2017 runners-up Al Hilal’s woes continued as they were beaten 2-1 by Al Rayyan, meaning they have still only picked up one point from their opening four games in Group D.

Abderrazak Hamdallah fired Rayyan ahead at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium a minute before halftime, before Rodrigo Tabata doubled their lead six minutes after the hour mark.

Yaseer Al-Qahtani pulled one back for Al Hilal in the final minute but it proved to be too little too late, meaning they continue to face an uphill task if they are to advance into the knockout round.

Nonetheless, just four points separate top from bottom in the group after Esteghlal played out a 1-1 draw with Al Ain in Monday’s final match.

Esteghlal were originally headed for victory courtesy of Mame Thiam’s 42nd-minute opener, but Tsukasa Shiotani levelled the scores with 12 minutes remaining to earn the Emirati visitors a share of the spoils.