Al Ahli began their 2017 AFC Champions League (ACL) campaign on a positive note as they secured a 2-1 win over Iranian side Esteghlal in a Group A clash on Monday.
The 2015 runners-up's first outing in the tournament in two years proved to be a successful one.
Makhete Diop proved to be the hero for the United Arab Emirates powerhouse at the Al-Rashid Stadium as his brace on his ACL debut won them all three points.
The game was largely a close contest with the Senegalese striker breaking the deadlock in first half added time with a finish from close range.
The hosts pressed forward in search of a second but Omid Ebrahimi seemed to have rescued a point for Alireza Mansourian’s side as his volley drew them level with 16 minutes to play in the encounter.
However, Diop popped up with the match-winning goal for the Dubai club in the 89th minute. His towering header from Everton Ribeiro’s cross from the left flank secured a win for Cosmin Olaroiu’s side.
The result sees the Dubai outfit top the group after the first round of games but more importantly, began their recovery from that defeat to China’s Guangzhou Evergrande in the 2015 final.
Al Ahli will face Lokomotiv Tashkent in their next group game on February 27.