Al Ahli of Saudi Arabia and Al Gharafa shared the spoils after a 1-1 draw in Group A of the 2018 AFC Champions League yesterday.
Al Gharafa came within a whisker of stunning their hosts in the sixth minute when Abdelaziz Hatem rattled the right post after a cross from Wesley Sneijder.
Al Ahli gradually grew into the game and Saleh al-Amri took advantage of a misplaced pass to advance through on goal but failed to take his chance. At the other end of the pitch, Moayed Hassan tested the goalkeeper from distance but Yasser al-Mosailem was well positioned to save.
The visitors came the closest to opening the scoring in the 19th minute when Mehdi Taremi found himself in front of an empty net after onrushing goalkeeper al-Mosailem failed to clear a ball from Assim Madibo but the Islamic Republic of Iran international somehow missed the target.
After a goalless first half, the Qataris finally took the lead through Taremi who converted a cross from Hassan in the 56th minute.
Al Gharafa’s joy didn’t last for long as Al Ahli responded instantly in similar fashion after Saeed al-Muwallad crossed for Moamen Zakaria, who headed home at the far post two minutes later.
The hosts almost snatched a winner when Ioannis Fetfatzidis cut inside from the right flank and fired a shot that ricocheted off the far post. Zakaria found the rebound but failed to net the second goal as his attempt sailed above the crossbar 15 minutes before the final whistle.
The result keeps Al Ahli top of Group A with eight points ahead of Matchday Five against Tractorsazi Tabriz while Al Gharafa are on five points, level with Al Jazira who they host next.
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