Al Ain defeated Malkiya 2-0 to make it to the group stage of the AFC Champions League in front of 5,000 fans yesterday thanks to goals from Marcus Berg and Caio Lucas. This came after a first half in which The Boss struggled to break down the Bahraini side, who were well-oiled and prepared to face the skills of Omar Abdulrahman and his teammates.
Malkiya’s Yemeni defensive midfielder and Omar Abdulrahman lookalike, Nawaf Abdullah, managed to keep Abdulrahman quiet in the first half with his very tight man to man marking. When Malkiya won the ball back, they managed to threaten Al Ain on the counter attack, with their most dangerous chance coming from a cross where captain Isa Al Bari was headed towards the ground and bounce just above Khaled Eisa’s goal.
Within minutes of the second half restart, Al Ain managed to open the scoring when the excellent Hussein El Shahat played a through ball to Marcus Berg, who finished off the first goal of the night in the 53rd minute. 8 minutes later, Caio headed in the second of the game from a Bandar Al Ahbabi cross to give Al Ain a comfortable lead which would let them see out the game.
Elsewhere in the AFC Champions League Play-off, Zob Ahan managed to fend off the challenge of Indian side Aizawi late on. After a goal from either side in the first 20 minutes of the game, Zob Ahan’s Morteza Tabrizi scored 2 goals in the 83rd and 93rd minute to send the Iranian side into the group stage.
Wesley Sneijder got on the scoresheet for Al Gharafa with a penalty in the 21st minute, before being followed up by Diogo Amado’s finish that was assisted by Iranian star Mehdi Taremi in the 26th minute. Their Uzbek opponents, Pakhtakor, only managed a consolation in injury time. Al Gharafa, despite their defensive issues, qualified with a 2-1 scoreline.
The final match of the night in West Asia saw Al Faisaly of Jordan face Nasaf Qarshi of Uzbekistan. An early goal from Igor Golban was enough to see out the first half for Nasaf, but 3 goals within 12 minutes in the 2nd half put them in a dominant position. Yasser Al Rawashdeh scored an own goal in the 87th minute to make it 5-0 for Nasaf, before Alban Meha scored a consolation for Al Faisaly in injury time.