Dubai: Makhete Diop’s 89th minute header secured all three points for United Arab Emirates powehourse Al Ahli as the 2015 AFC Champions League finalists handed Esteghlal from the Islamic Republic of Iran an agonising 2-1 defeat in their opening meeting in Group A of the 2017 campaign on Monday.
Omid Ebrahimi looked to have earned Alireza Mansourian’s side a share of the points with a fine volley 16 minutes from time after Al Ahli had taken the lead just seconds before the end of the first half with a close range goal from Diop.
But the Senegalese striker rose highest to meet Everton Ribeiro’s cross from the left as the game entered the dying moments to earn Cosmin Olaroiu’s side a deserved win.
Al Taawoun (KSA) 1-0 Lokomotiv (UZB)
Buraidah: Captain Talal Al Absi’s second-half goal saw Al Taawoun of Saudi Arabia mark their maiden AFC Champions League appearance with a 1-0 victory over Uzbekistan’s Lokomotiv in Group A on Monday.
The debutants started brightly in front of a packed King Abdullah Stadium but Alassane N’Diaye’s early strike was ruled out for offside, then, after controlling the majority of the first half, Abdulrahman Al Barakah’s effort came back off the woodwork shortly after the interval.
But the home supporters eventually got the goal they craved on 68 minutes as defender Al Absi was at the back post to head home Romanian Lucian Sanmartean’s deep corner from the left to claim all three points as Al Taawoun enjoyed a night to remember.
Esteghlal Khouzestan (IRN) 1-0 Al Fateh (KSA)
Muscat: Abolfazl Alaii’s 80th minute header ensured Iranian champions Esteghlal Khouzestan took all three points in the 2017 AFC Champions League opener after their 1-0 Group B win over Saudi Arabia’s Al Fateh on Monday at Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex.
The continental debutants from Ahvaz were on top for much of the tie but could not find the breakthrough until 10 minutes from time when defender Alaii rose highest to nod home Peyman Shirzadi's inswinging corner at the back post.
Al Fateh, who are making their second appearance in the competition after 2014, see their winless run in the AFC Champions League stretch to seven games after they failed to pick up a victory in their inaugural campaign.
Lekhwiya (QAT) 3-0 Al Jazira (UAE)
Doha: Youssef El Arabi bagged a brace as a dominant Lekhwiya claimed a 3-0 victory over Al Jazira in their 2017 AFC Champions League Group B opener at Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium on Monday.
The hosts opened the scoring 11 minutes into the game when El Arabi (pictured right) continued his fine goalscoring form of late by heading in Youssef Msakni’s cross from the right from six yards, before Msakni deservedly doubled the Qatari side’s lead with 10 minutes remaining.
El Arabi then tapped in from substitute Ali Afif’s (pictured left) centre in added time to wrap up a comfortable victory for Lekhwiya as the Emiratis’ winless run in the continental competition stretched to eight games.