Saudi teams stay on course
Goal Al-Shabab’s Nasser Al-Shamrani (R) and teammate Mesad Nada celebrate after scoring against Al-Rayyan during their AFC Champions League match in Doha Wednesday. (Reuters)
JEDDAH: Saudi teams Al-Ittihad and Al-Shabab stayed on course in the AFC Champions League with a win and draw respectively Wednesday.
While Al-Ittihad won 3-1 over guest Piroozi Athletic of Iran in Group C at Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Stadium here Al-Shabab shared two goals with host Al-Rayyan in Group D at Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium at Al-Rayyan, Qatar.
Algerian striker Abdul-Malik Ziaya put Ittihad in the lead after 13 minutes before midfielder Maziar Zare of Piroozi leveled the score six minutes later. Ittihad skipper Mohammed Noor wrested the lead by scoring from the spot, three minutes after the break. Ziaya sealed the win in the 72nd minute.
Ittihad started pressing on its visitors and succeeded to please the 10,787 supporters with an early goal when Noor sent a long pass to Ziaya who beat Piroozi goalkeeper Rahman Ahmedi.
From a foul kick in the 19th minute, midfielder Maziar Zare of Piroozi sent a strong kick from nearly 30 yards. The ball deflected off Ittihad defender Ridha Takar into the goal.
A minute after the break, Noor excelled again to put Portuguese midfielder, Nuno Assis face to face with Ahmedi. The latter could do nothing but to bring Assis down and the Malaysian referee Mohammed Subkhiddin, pointed to the spot. Noor confidently put Ittihad in the lead again.
In the 72nd minute, Ittihad missed the service of the effective Noor due to injury. Three minutes later, Raheeb managed to enter the box and passed the ball to an unmarked Ziaya who applied the finishing touches effortlessly.
There was late drama, meanwhile, in Uzbek champion Bunyodkor’s Group C game at Al-Wahda of UAE.
The visitors looked set for victory when Uzbek international midfielder Azizbek Haydarov gave them an 85th-minute lead but substitute Hugo levelled just three minutes later to earn a 1-1 draw for Josef Hickesberger’s team.
At the Al-Rayyan stadium, Brazilian striker of Rayyan, Batista Itamar put the Qatari side in the lead in the 33rd minute and Nasser Al-Shamrani of Shabab leveled the score 15 minutes after the break.
With one point each, both teams occupy the second place behind Zobahan of Iran.
Last season’s beaten finalist Zobahan, got off to a winning start in Group D by coming from behind to prevail 2-1 at home to UAE outfit Emirates.
Elsewhere, Japanese side Cerezo Osaka took all three points, while South Korea’s Jeonbuk Motors deservedly shrugged off Shandong Luneng 1-0 in Group G. Cerezo overcame a stubborn Arema Indonesia 2-1 at home.
There were no goals, meanwhile, in the first round of action in Group H, where ten-man Sydney FC clung on for a plucky home point against another Korean side, Suwon Bluewings.
Also in Group H, Shanghai Shenhua and Kashima Antlers of the J-League played out another scoreless draw to leave all four teams on a single point after one game each.
FC Seoul began its Group F campaign with a 1-0 win at Al-Ain of UAE.