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AFC Cup 2018: Group Stage Matchday One Review: Central, South & East Zones

20:38 GMT 07/03/2018
Last year's runners-up FC Istiklol started with a win while the other Central Zone game was a goalfest...

The AFC Cup 2018 saw matchday one action in the Central, South and East Zone matches getting underway. Here is a look at what transpired this week: 

GROUP D (Central Zone): 

FC Istiklol 1-0 FC Ahal (Guychmyrat (OG) 25')

Last year's runners-up FC Istiklol got their Group D campaign off to a winning start after a narrow 1-0 win over FC Ahal on Wednesday. 

FC Isiklol were the favourites going into this game and deservedly took the lead though an own goal in the 25th minute. Nozim Babadzhanov's cross from the right saw Zenko Mikalai's effort being parried by the goalkeeper. But the ball bounced back into the goal off Annaguliyev Guychmyrat, much to the away team's misfortune. 

Istiklol were the dominant team and despite being reduced to 10 men late on, held on to notch all three points. 

FC Alay 3-6 Altyn Asyr (I Alimov 39' Joel 46' M Alimov 57' - Yakshiyev 11', 51' Annadurdyyev 19', 40', 84' Bayov 88')

Altymyrat Annadurdyyev scored a hat-trick as Altyn Asyr won 6-3 away to FC Alay and go top of Group D on Wednesday. 

Murat Yakshiyev gave Altyn Asyr the lead in the 11th minute when he rounded the keeper with ease and finished. Annadurdyyev made it 2-0 in the 19th minute before Iliaz Alimov pulled one back for the home side in the 39th minute. But Annadurdyyev made it 3-1 almost immediately. FC Alay pulled oneback again at the start of the second half when Joel Kojo scored a long-ranger. 

Yakshiyev then completed his brace five minutes later to make it 4-2 before Maksadbek Alimov finished a lovely move to make it 4-3 in a thrilling game. But Annadurdyyev would go on to grab his hat-trick in the 84th minute to settle contest before Begmyrat Bayov's goal extinguished all remaining hopes for FC Alay. 


GROUP E (South Zone): 

Abahani Limited Dhaka 0-1 New Radiant (Ali Fasir 58')

Maldives' New Radiant began their AFC Cup campaign with a 1-0 win over Bangladesh's Abahani Limited Dhaka on Wednesday. 

The first half was tight and often fiery and finished goalless before New Radiant got the breakthrough in the 58th minute. Ali Fasir put the visitors ahead with a left-footed strike after a lovely piece of buildup play by the Maldives-based side. 

The home team were reduced to 10 men in the 60th minute and could not force an equaliser as New Radiant went top of Group E. 


GROUP I (East Zone):

Benfica Macau 3-2 Hang Yuen (Nguema 49' Leonel 61', 64' - Ching-Hsuan 19', 34')

Macau's Benfica triumphed 3-2 over Chinese Taipe's Hang Yuen on Wednesday in what was a battle between two debutants in the competition. 

The visitors started well in Macau, with a double from Chen Ching Hsuan inside 35 minutes. First, he headed home Lin Shih Kai’s cross from the left before Hsu Yi's low centre was dispatched off. But after the break, Benfica fought back valiantly. 

Gilchrist Nguema drilled a shot into the net in the 49th minute before Carlos Leonel scored a brace to pull his team ahead. In the 61st minute, he headed home substitute David’s Tetteh’s cross from the right before bundling home Edgar Teixeira’s corner from close range to seal the comeback. 

4.25 SC 1-0 Hwaepul SC (Il-Born 84')

The battle between two North Korean outfits finished 1-0 in favour of 4.25 SC on Wednesday in Pyongyang. 

After a goalless first half at the May Day stadium, 4.25 SC needed an 84th minute winner from skipper An Il-Born to seal all three points on the day and start the group with a win. 

4.25 SC were the East Zone champions last year and will be hoping to do the same this year initially.