The Arabian Gulf League’s quartet of competitors endured a tough introduction to the 2019 AFC Champions League, taking one point from their four matches.
South Korea international Rim Chang-woo’s scrambled 90th-minute leveller from a corner at Al Nahyan Stadium earned Al Wahda a 1-1 draw against Saudi Arabia’s depleted Al Ahli Jeddah in Group A on Monday night. Elsewhere, only defeats were recorded.
2002/03 winners Al Ain suffered an ignominious 4-0 home defeat to Sepahan on Tuesday. Emerging Iran winger Mohammad Mohebi headed the Persian Gulf Pro League runners-up into a half-time lead at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, prior to a flood of further goals via prolific Brazilian striker Kiros Stanlley taking advantage of an errant back pass, unmarked playmaker Soroush Rafiei’s thumping finish and a flick from centre-back Mohammad Tayyebi.
On the same evening, AGL holders Sharjah’s return after 16-years away ended in a narrow 1-0 defeat to King’s Cup champions Al Taawoun. A stupendous 34th-minute free-kick from defender Faisal Darwish separated the competitors at Sharjah Stadium in Group C.
Lethal ex-Serbia Under-21 hit man Dragan Ceran’s scuffed late shot earned Uzbekistan juggernauts Pakhtakor a 2-1, Group A-triumph versus Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club at a sodden – and freezing – Pakhtakor Central Stadium on Monday.
Uzbekistan midfielder Jaloliddin Masharipov had lobbed the hosts into an 18th-minute lead. Shabab Al Ahli refused to be cowed and levelled in the 67th minute when Spanish striker Pedro Conde tapped in for a first goal in six appearances since a winter move from Bani Yas, only for Ceran’s effort to creep in from Dostonbek Khamdamov’s cross.
Play resumes in West Asia next week. Shabab Al Ahli host champions Al Hilal and Al Wahda visit Iraq Premier League winners Al Shorta on Monday, while Tuesday’s fixtures see Sharjah welcome Iran’s No1 side Persepolis and Al Ain welcome Saudi Professional League holders Al Nassr.
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