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

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Al Ain were held for the third consecutive time while Al Duhail maintained their perfect start to the campaign...

The AFC Champions League 2018 saw the Matchday Three fixtures in West Zone come to a conslusion. Here is a short recap of the action we witnessed:- 

GROUP A:


Al Jazira 0-0 Tractorsazi Tabriz


UAE's Al Jazira played out a goalless draw at home against Iranian outfit Tractorsazi Tabriz on Monday in a Group A clash. 

The first half was mostly insipid with neither team producing any chance of note. Though the second half did see chances for either team, a goal eluded them. The visitors' Ehsan Pahlevan had a shot from a tight angle saved by the Al Jazira goalkeeper while Daniel Esmaeilifar saw a shot graze the upright and go out around the hour mark. 

Al Jazira defender Khalifa Mubarak's header three minutes from time was saved by the Tractorsazi goalkeeper as the game finished level. Al Jazira are currently second on the table with four points while the visitors opened their accoun in the group. 


Al Gharafa 1-1 Al Ahli (Quijada 90+1' - Balghait 62')


Al Gharafa v Al Ahli; AFC Champions League 2018

Saudi Arabian side Al Ahli's perfect start to the campaign was brought to an end by Qatar's Al Gharafa on Tuesday.

After a goalless first half in Qatar, the visitors took a deserved lead in the 62nd minute. Defender Aqeel Balghaith powered in a header into the top corner after meeting Taiseer Al Jassim's cross from the left wing. 

The goal looked to have been enough for Al Ahli but for the home team to produce a response. In injury time, Wesley Sneijder's cross to Quijada was headed back off the post and the latter followed it up and slotted in the rebound to ensure a point for the home team. 

Al Gharafa are now third with four points while Al Ahli have seven points.

 

GROUP B:


Zobahan 2-0 Al Wahda (Tabrizi 34', 73')


Mortaza Tabrizi's brace handed Iran's Zobahan a vital win in Group B over UAE's Al Wahda on Tuesday. 

Both teams started the game well, with chacnes falling for both before the home team went into the lead in the 34th minute. Sayed Hosseini’s cross was headed home at the far post by Tabrizi expertly. Zobahan continued to dominate and Rahmani saw a curling attempt bounce back off the upright. 

The lead was doubled in the 73rd minute when Kiros got on the end of a long ball and found Tabrizi in behind the Al Wahda defence. The striker went on to place his effort from 30 yards to seal the result. Zobahan are now second in the group with six points while Al Wahda are yet to open their account. 


Al Duhail 3-2 PFC Lokomotiv (El Arabi 9', 19' Msakni 25' - Nivaldo 57' Bikmaev 59')


Lokomotiv v Al Duhail; AFC Champions League 2018

Qatar's Al Duhail continued their perfect start to the tournament with a 3-2 win at home over Lokomotiv Tashkent on Tuesday. 

Al Duhail got off a blistering start as they took the lead in the ninth minute. Moroccan striker Youssef El Arabi scored a fierce low shot after some slick passing by the home team before doubling the lead 10 minutes later by tapping in Al Moez Ali's square ball. El Arabi then set up Youssef Msakni six minutes later as the Qatari side went three goals ahead inside half an hour. 

The Uzbek side, however, mounted a fightback just before the hour mark. Substiture Nivaldo scored with his first touch in the 57th minute before Marat Bikmaev made it 3-2 with a lob over the Al Duhail goalkeeper. But Al Duhail held on to register their third win on the trot and move three points clear at the top while Loomotiv remain third with three points. 

 

GROUP C: 


FC Nasaf 1-0 Al Sadd (Ganiev 62')


Uzbekistan's FC Nasaf pulled off a 1-0 win over Qatar's Al Sadd on Monday at home to make things tight at the top in Group C. 

Al Sadd struggled without their captain Xavi Hernandez as Nasaf looked the most likely to score in the first half. Bobir Abdixolikov even had a strike chalked out for offside before they eventually took the lead in the 62nd minute. 

Salem Al Hajri's foul on Abdixolikov was penalised and Azizjon Ganiev converted the resulting penalty to hand the Uzbek side a deserved lead. Nasaf then went on to hold out for the win to force a three-way tie at the top of Group C. 


Persepolis 2-0 Al Wasl (Ahmadzadeh 36' Alipour 41')


Persepolis v Al Wasl; AFC Champions League 2018

Iran's Persepolis went joint-top of Group C with a 2-0 win over Al Wasl on Monday. 

The Iranian side surged into the lead in 36th minute when Hossein Mahini’s long throw-in was headed by captain Jalal Hosseini onto the path of Ahmadzadeh who volleyed into the roof of the net at the far post. 

Five minutes later, the lead was doubled by Ali Alipour when he was brought down inside the box by Al Wasl goalkeeper Yousif Abdulla. Alipour went on to convert the resulting spotkick to make it 2-0. Persepolis would then easily hold out to complete the win. 

 

GROUP D: 


Al Ain 2-2 Esteghlal (Berg 63' Khalil 89' - Thiam 52', 77')


Al Ain v Esteghlal; AFC Champions League

Al Ain were left to rue a missed penalty as they drew 2-2 with Iran's Esteghlal on Tuesday in an exciting Group D clash. 

After a goalless first half, Mane Thiam handed the visitors the lead by converting Farshid Esmaeili’s cross from the left flank at the near post. Al Ain restored parity in 62nd minute when Swedish striker Marcus Berg finished off Hussein El Shahat’s cross from a tight angle. He then had a chance to put Al Ain in the lead when the UAE-based side got a penalty in the 73rd minute. But his strike was pushed on to the post by Esteghlal goalkeeper Seyed Hosseini. 

Thiam then put Esteghlal into the lead by finding the far corner of the net. It looked enough to give the visitors the win but minutes before time, Ahmed Khalil was brought down inside the box and Al Ain side were handed a penalty. Khalil himself converted the spotkick to hand Al Ain their third consecutive draw in Group D. Esteghlal continue to lead the group with five points. 


Al Hilal SFC 1-1 Al Rayyan (Al Zori 58' - Moutouali 3')

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Al Hilal and Al Rayyan played out a 1-1 draw to make things tight in Group D on Tuesday. 

It was the visitors who started well as they raced into the lead inside three minutes. Captain Rodrigo Tabata found Moutouali who fired a powerful strike from outside the box to stun the home side. 

Al Hilal produced a response in the second half and got their equaliser in the 58th minute. Bencharki sent an intelligent pass into the box for overlapping left-back Al Zori who saw a fierce shot pierce the net. Al Rayyan notched their third consecutive draw while Al Hilal have only two draws to show for their efforts so far. 

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