AFC Champions League 2018: Group Stage Matchday Six Review: West Zone

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The AFC Champions League 2018 saw the gruop stage come to a close in the West Zone on Monday. Here is a look at what transpired in a crucial week: 

GROUP A:


Tractorsazi Tabriz 1-3 Al Gharafa (Iranpourian 31' - Hassan 70' Hatem 76' Taremi 87')  


Qatar's Al Gharafa ensured they ended their AFC Champions League 2018 campaign on a high after a 3-1 win over Iran's Tractorsazi Tabriz away from home. 

Both teams had already crashed out of the tournament and had nothing riding on this game other than luck. The home team would surge into the lead in the 31st minute when Amir Arsalan Motahari was fouled inside the area and Mohammad Iranpourian dispatched the spotkick. 

However, a consolation win would be denied to them by a terrific fightback in the second half from the Qatari outfit. Moayed Hassan curled in a freekick first. Then he was sent through on goal by Mehdi Taremi in the 76th minute. But he would unselfishly square for Abdelaziz Hatem to tap in. Taremi would then get a third in the 87th minute to seal the win which meant Al Gharafa would be third despite having the same points as second-placed Al Jazira (thanks to an inferior head-to-head record).


Al Jazira 1-2 Al Ahli (Romarinho 68' - Al Amri 6' Zakaria 30')


Saudi Arabia's Al Ahli ensured they would advance to the knockout stages as Group A winners after a 2-1 win away to Al Jazira on Tuesday. 

The visitors got off to a dream start when Hamdan Al Shamrani entered the box from the left wing and found Salah Al Amri who slotted home expertly in the sixth minute. Around the half-hour mark, they would make it 2-0 when Salman Al Muwashar found Moamen Zakaria who curled a strike in from the edge of the box. 

The visitors looked at ease during the second half as well but Al Jazira pulled a goal back in the 68th minute when Romarinho pounced on a loose ball from a poor clearance and finished. But they wouldn't be able to find the equaliser as the Al Ahli held on. 

 

GROUP B: 


Al Duhail 1-0 Al Wahda (Mostafa 47')


Qatar's Al Duhail maintained their perfect record in the group stages with a 1-0 win over UAE's Al Wahda on Tuesday. 

The Qatari team had all five of their previous five games in Group B and decided to field some youngsters for this game. Still, Al Duhail were the dominant team in the early exchanges. Though Al Wahda did threaten on some occasions, Al Duhail were given an advantage when Al Wahda defender Salem Sultan was sent off after pulling down Youssef El Arabi who was through on goal. 

Duhail then took advantage by scoring in the 47th minute when young winger Fahmi played a delightful give-and-go with El Arabia and finished. Al Duhail will now play Group D runners-up Al Ain in the Round of 16. 


Lokomotiv Tashkent 1-1 Zobahan (Tukhtakhodjaev 90' - Tabrizi 25')


Iran's Zobahan advanced to the AFC Champions League knockout stage after a 1-1 draw away to Lokomotiv Tashent. 

Lokomotiv started well in a match which was a do-or-die clash for both teams. But it was the visitors who struck first. In the 25th minute, Mohammad Reza Hosseini sent a defence-splitting pass for Morteza Tabrizi who finished past the goalkeeper. 

Though Lokomotiv pressed hard for an equalsier, Zobahan held firm until late on when Tukhtakhujaev's powerful shot from a narrow angle was deflected in. But the draw was enough for Zobahan to confirm their spot in the Round of 16 where they will face fellow Iranian side Esteghlal. 

 

GROUP C:


Persepolis FC 1-0 Al Sadd SC (Pouraliganji (OG) 3')


Iran's Persepolis advanced to the Round of 16 as Group C winners after a 1-0 win over Qatar's Al Sadd on Monday. 

Both teams had already qualified for the knockout stages and only the top spot in the group remained up for grabs. Persepolis needed just three minutes to go in front in fortuitous circumstances. Mohammed Ansari whipped in a cross from the left but Al Sadd defender Morteza Pouraliganji inadvertently headed past his own keeper. 

Al Sadd, who only needed a draw to confirm top spot, went all out to get an equaliser throughout but were unable to do so, handing all three points to Persepolis. 


Al Wasl FC 1-2 FC Nasaf  (Lima 33' - Mukhitdinov 45+2' Abdixolikov 48')


Uzbekistan's FC Nasaf ended their AFC Champions League campaign on a positive note after a 2-1 win away from home over Al Wasl FC on Monday. 

The game got off to a cagey start but Al Wasl took the lead in the 33rd minute through Fabio Lima. The Brazilian controlled Khalil Khamis' cross before firing it in to the goal. But Al Wasl were pegged back just before half-time when Sharof Mukhitdinov unleashed a thunderous strike with a half volley. 

Three minutes after the restart when Bobir Abdixolikov went on a mazy run and scored a placed shot. Al Wasl become the only side to exit the 2018 AFC Champions League with no points to their name as FC Nasaf finished third. 

 

GROUP D:  


Al Rayyan SC 1-4 Al Ain FC (Soria 85' - El Shahat 11' Abdulrahman 55' Berg 58', 78')


UAE's Al Ain romped into the AFC Champions League knockout stages after a 4-1 win over Qatar's Al Rayyan on Monday. 

In a must-win game, Al Ain got off to a splendid start when Caio's shot was parried on to Hussein El Shahat's path who tapped in. The scores remained the same in the first half but ten minutes into the second-half, Al Ain doubled the score. Omar Abdulrahman curled a free-kick in before Swedish striker Marcus berg made it 3-0 three minutes later. 

Berg then converted Caio's cross in the 78th minute to make it 4-0. Sebastian Soria's late goal only turned out to be a consoaltion for Al Rayyan as they crashed out yet again at this stage. 

Al Ain will play Al Duhail in the Round of 16. 


Al Hilal SFC 0-1 Esteghlal FC (Ghafouri 36')


Iran's Esteghlal went through as Group D winners after a 1-0 win away to Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal on Monday. 

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Al Hilal were already eliminated but continued to play attacking football at the start but were unable to produce a goal. Despite Al Hilal's domination, Esteghlal took the lead against the run of play. Yasir Al Shahrani failed to clear the ball and Vouria Ghafouri fired a goal in. 

Esteghlal's victory earned them the top spot in Group D with 12 points, while Al Ain finished as runners-up. 

 

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