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

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Al Jazira, Al Ahli, Persepolis and Al Sadd have all qualified for the knockout stages of the competition...

The AFC Champions League 2018 saw intense action on Matchday Five in the West Zone. Here is a look at what transpired:

GROUP A:


Al Ahli Saudi FC 2-0 Tractorsazi Tabriz (Aseri 49' Zakaria 90+5')


Al Ahli confirmed their spot in the 2018 Champions League Round of 16 stage with a 2-0 win over Iran side Tractorsazi Tabriz on Tuesday, eliminating the losing team in the process. 

The visitors had started the game brighter and had several good chances early on. The Saudi side struggled early on and conceded a 19-th minute penalty which was hit straight to the post by the visiting captain Mehdi Kiani. 

After the break, Mohannad Aseri gave Al Ahli the lead with a powerful shot which went in at the right corner of the net. Al Ahli would wrap up the points late on after Moamen Zakaria latched on to a poor clearance and slotted home to send his team to the knockout stage. They are three points clear at the top and look set to finish as group winners.  


Al Gharafa 2-3 Al Jazira (Al Aaeldin 28' Amado 44' - Romarinho 14' Al Hajeri 70', 90+4')


Al Gharafa v Al Jazira; AFC Champions League

Ali Mabkhout Al Hajeri was the hero as UAE's Al Jazira booked their spot in the knockout stages of the competition with a dramatic 3-2 win over Qatar's Al Gharafa on TUesday. 

Al Gharafa had taken an early lead when Mabkhout's powerful shot clattered back off the woodwork and Romarinho slotted it in. However, the home team responded quickly. Ahmed Al Aaeldin stabbed home Abdelaziz Hatem’s cross at the near post to restore parity in the 28th minute. Just before half-time, Portuguese defender Diogo Amado turned home Wesley Sneijder's freekick from close-range to give Al Gharafa the lead. 

In the 70th minute, Romarinho supplied Mabkhout with a through ball and the latter finished expertly through the goalkeeper's legs to make it 2-2. Just when it seemed the game would end as a draw despite Gharafa being a man down, Mabkhout broke free at the very end of the game and rounded the goalkeeper and slotted home to send his team to the Round of 16 and eliminate Al Gharafa.

 

GROUP B:


Al Wahda 1-4 PFC Lokomotiv (Al Danhani 88' - Mirzayev 4', 39' Shaakhmedov 55' Rashid 89' (OG))


Al Wahda v Lokomotiv; AFC Champions LEague

Uzbekistan's Lokomotiv stayed in the running for a knockout stage spot with a 4-1 demolition of UAE's Al Wahda on Tuesday. 

The visitors from Uzbek were on the front foot right from the onset as Mirzayev converted Shukhrat Mukhammadeiv's accurate cross in the fourth minute. Mirzayev doubled his tally in the 39th minute as his free-kick from distance evaded everybody and sneaked in to the goal. 

Sanjar Shaakhmedov added a third for the visitors in the 55th minute after turning home Nivaldo's cutback. A resigned Al Wahda did pull a goal back in the 88th minute as Khaled Al Danhani headed in a corner. But an Ahmed Rashid own-goal meant Lokomotiv's three-goal lead was restored and Al Wahda were relegated. 


Zobahan FC 0-1 Al Duhail (Mohammad 84')


A weakened Al Duhail were able to keep their perfect record in Group B going with a 1-0 win away to Zobahan on Tuesday. 

The Qatari team did not have the services of two of its star forwards but were still largely untroubled by the home team who were desperate to win. After a sedate first half, Zobahan did create a few chances but they could not convert them. 

In the 84th minute, Al Duhail punished them as Ismail Mohammad tapped into an empty goal following Sultan Al Brake's precise pass from the left. The result meant that Zobahan now are locked on six points with Lokomotiv and matchday six will determine who goes through. 

 

GROUP C:


Al Sadd 2-1 Al Wasl (Bounedjah 9', 53' - Caio 90+2')


Al Sadd v Al Wasl; AFC Champions League

Qatar's Al Sadd booked their spot in the Round of 16 with a 2-1 win over UAE's Al Wasl on Monday. 

Al Sadd came racing off the blocks and gained the lead in the ninth minute when Baghdad Bounedjah turned home Abdulrahman Ali's underhit back-pass. Bounedjah almost set up skipper Xavi Hernandez just before the half-time break but the second goal did not come until the 53rd minute. 

Bounedjah started a counter-attack and was there to convert Akram Afif's low cross with a back-heeled finish. Caio Canedo's deft finish enabled Al Wasl to pull a goal back late on but it was merely a consolation as the UAE side fell to their fifth defeat in as many games. 


FC Nasaf 0-0 Persepolis


Uzbekistan's FC Nasaf played out a goalless draw with Iran's Persepolis but were unable to prevent the visitors from securing a spot in the knockout stages of the competition on Monday. 

FC Nasaf defended stoutly in the opening 45 minutes as Persepolis toiled hard to open the scoring. After the break, Persepolis' threat increased further as Siamak Nemati went close in the 50th minute. 

Ahmed Nourollahi forced a save from the Nasaf goalkeeper late on but the game would finish goalless, sending the Iranians to the next stage while Nasaf have been eliminated. 

 

GROUP D:


Esteghlal 2-0 Al Rayyan (Djeparov 4' Ghafouri 58')


Iran's Esteghlal advanced to the knockout stages of the AFC Champions League with a 2-0 win over Qatar's Al Rayyan on Monday. 

The hosts needed only four minutes to take the lead as Server Djeparov converted a cross from Farshid Esmaeili. The Qatari side tried in vain to get an equaliser as Rodrigo Tabata went close a couple of times. 

Esteghlal doubled their lead 13 minutes after the restart as Vouria Ghafouri stepped up to drive home from the penalty spot to make it 2-0. Al Rayyan will now have to battle Al Ain in the final matchday for the lone remaining spot in Group D. 


Al Ain 2-1 Al Hilal SFC (Berg 36, 45+2' - Al-Burayk 7')


Al Ain v Al Hilal; AFC Champions League

UAE's Al Ain gained a very important victory over Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal, thanks to a double from Marcus Berg. 

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It was Al Hilal who got off to a good start as Mohammed Al Burayk fired a curling free-kick home from 25 yards out. Omar Abdulrahman would then miss a penalty for Al Ain as it seemed as if it would not be their day. 

But they would be awarded another penalty in the 36th minute and this time Marcus Berg would take it and convert. Al Ain would be awarded another penalty just before half-time when Rayan Yslam was fouled by Fahad Al Rashidi. Berg would make no mistake from the spot yet again to give his team the lead and ultimately, the win. 

Al Ain are now a point ahead of Al Rayyan in second place while Al Hilal have been eliminated. 

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