Al Ahli book Round of 16 berth as Sneijder’s Al Gharafa eliminated

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Al Ahli are through to the AFC Champions League Round of 16 after claiming a 2-0 win over Tractor Sazi on Tuesday evening.

Following a goalless first half at the Tahnoun bin Mohammed Stadium, Muhannad Asiri broke the deadlock with a fine individual effort as he pounced on a half-clearance and sold Mohammadreza Mehdizadeh a couple of dummies before bending a fine effort into the top corner.

And, in the second minute of injury-time, the Saudi Arabian outfit made sure of the win as Moamen Zakaria pounced on a loose ball inside the area after Hussain Al-Mogahwi’s initial effort had been blocked to flick his shot beyond Jordi Almeida’s despairing dive.

The result guarantees Al Ahli a top-two finish in Group A and they will be joined in the last-16 by Al Jazira, who secured their progress with a 3-2 triumph over Al Gharafa.

Although it was Al Gharafa who took the lead courtesy of Romarinho’s 14th-minute opener, the Qataris overturned the deficit by halftime courtesy of efforts by Ahmad Alaeeldin (28’) and Diogo Amado (44’).

However, Ali Mabkhout levelled the scores for Jazira in the 70th minute before netting a dramatic winner in the fourth minute of injury-time.

Although Al Gharafa can still finish level on points with Jazira, their inferior head-to-head record means they have no chance of pipping the Emirati outfit to a place in the knockout round.

Over in Group B, Lokomotiv Tashkent kept alive their hopes of progress as they claimed an emphatic 4-1 win over Al Wahda.

With group winners Al Duhail maintaining their perfect record with a 1-0 win over Zob Ahan – courtesy of Ismaeel Mohammad’s 84th-minute strike – Lokomotiv can reach the Round of 16 with victory over the Iranian side in their final group game on April 17.