AFC Champions League 2017: Esteghlal Khouzestan assumes control of Group B; Al Ahli shocked in Group A

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Esteghal Khouzestan continued their impressive start to the AFC Champions League 2017 while there were a surprise in store for UAE's Al Ahli..

The second round of fixtures of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League 2017 group stages got underway on Monday with action unfolding in Groups A & B. 

There were several interesting results which included 2015 runners-up Al Ahli getting shocked by Lokomotiv Tashkent. 

Here are how the teams fared in the four games that took place on Monday. 

GROUP A: 


Lokomotiv Tashkent 2-0 Al Ahli [Kutibaev 1’, Bikmaev 57’]  


Lokomotiv Tashkent vs Al Ahli

The Uzbek side got their first win of the campaign after ambushing UAE’s Al Ahli in Tashkent to record a brilliant 2-0 victory. 

Lokomotiv got off to the perfect start with Salamat Kutibaev sending their opponents into shock with a goal under 18 seconds, which incidentally is the second fastest strike in the history of the competition. Bikmaev raced to the byline immediately after kick-off and sent a cross in which was met by an onrushing Kutibaev with a powerful header. 

Lokomotiv Tashkent 2-0 Al Ahli: Dubai outfit concede after 18 seconds is disappointing defeat

A stunned visitors then started to create chances of their own and tested the Lokomotiv defence which held firm. But just after the restart, Al Ahli’s defence was breached again. This time, Sardor Mirzayev capitalised on a poor clearing header to send Bikmaev through who slotted past the goalkeeper with ease. 

Though Lokomotiv goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov had to come up with some good saves, they held on to bounce back from their opening day defeat to Al Taawoun. 


Esteghlal 3-0 Al Taawoun [Rezaei 1’, Karimi 70’, Padovani 88’] 


Esteghlal vs AL Taawoun

Two time Asian champions Esteghlal got their campaign up and running after a convincing 3-0 victory over Saudi Arabian side Al Taawoun, which meant all teams in the group have one win each. 

Once again, the tone for the game was set in the very first minute. A long throw-in from the right wing was only partially cleared by the Al Taawoun defence and Kaveh Rezaei capitalised, sending a volley into the top corner from close range. 

ACL 2017: Round Two Preview

The Saudi Arabian side went on to create several chances, but were unable to get a goal past the Iranian side’s defence. Esteghlal would then go on to get the insurance of a second goal in the 70th minute after shoddy defending. They could not clear a free-kick into the box and Jaber Ansari’s attempted shot was mistimed and it fell to Mohsin Karimi who proceeded to flick the ball past the goalkeeper into the net. 

The result was sealed with just two minutes of normal time left, when Brazilian defender Leonardo Padovani turned in Omid Ebrahimi’s accurate free-kick from point-blank range. 

 

GROUP B: 


Al Fateh 2-2 Lekhwiya SC [Nathan 40’ Al-Bishi 56’ - El Arabi 19’, Tae-hee 86’] 


Lekhwiya's EL Arabi fighting for the ball

Saudi Arabian side Al Fateh were denied a first continental victory in eight games by a stunning equaliser from Nam Tae-hee which meant Lekhwiya SC notched a point after 2-2 draw at the Prince Abdullah Bin Jalawi stadium in Al-Hasa on Monday. 

It was the visitors who surged into the lead in the 19th minute when Youssuf El Arabi continued his good run of form to notch his third goal of the campaign with a thumping header from Youssef Msakni’s cross. But the home side equalised in the 40th minute through a penalty converted by Nathan Junior after the referee spotted a handball inside the area. 

Much to the fancied Lekhwiya’s dismay, Al Fateh defender Sayyaf Al Bishi stabbed home after goalkeeper Amine Lecomte spilled a corner inside the box in the 56th minute.

Just as it looked like Al Fateh were on course for a memorable win, Korean international Nam Tae-hee caught a sweet volley from the edge of the box in the 86th minute that dipped over the Al Fateh goalkeeper and ensured Lekhwiya rose to second in the group with four points. 


Al Jazira 0-1 Esteghlal Khouzestan [Aloys Nong 2’] 


Iranian side Esteghlal Khouzestan consolidated their position atop Group B after downing UAE’s Al Jazira 0-1 on Monday. 

Al Jazira 0-1 Esteghlal Khuzestan: Frustrating defeat sees Abu Dhabi club plummet in Group B

An early goal did the trick for the visitors who surged into the lead in the second minute. A thrown-in from the left wing was flicked on to Hassan Beit Saeid who laid the ball onto the path of Aloys Nong who coolly found the net with a finish with the outside of his boot. 

ACL: Player of Round One

There were couple of great chances for either team in the second half. Beit Saeid struck the Al Jazira post with a wonderful free-kick before Musallem Fayez headed against the crossbar at the other end. But the Iranians held out to ensure they moved on to six points while Al Jazira are yet to open their account.

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