Al Ahli of Saudi, Uzbekistan's Pakhtakor into Asian Champions League quarters
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Doha (AFP) –
Al Ahli of Saudi Arabia defeated Shabab Al Ahli Dubai 4-3 on penalties to progress to the quarter-finals of the AFC Champions League on Saturday.
They were joined in the last eight by Uzbek giants Pakhtakor, who bounced back from a goal down to edge out Iran’s Esteghlal 2-1 in a late match.
After 120 minutes of frenetic action produced a 1-1 draw at the air-conditioned Al Janoub Stadium, it was twice runners-up Al Ahli who proved lucky in the shootout which saw Shabab Al Ahli's Ahmed Khalil and Abdullah al-Naqbi misfiring from the spot.
Talismanic Syrian striker Omar al-Somah had scored the equaliser for the Saudi side from a penalty in the second half, but watched in agony as his shot hit the post in the tie-breaker.
But that didn't matter as Naqbi of Shabab also missed, sparking celebrations in the Al Ahli camp bench.
The Saudis were up and about from the outset and could hae gone ahead early in the game but Somah's powerful header from a fine corner from German World Cupper Marko Marin slammed into the crossbar.
Salman al-Muwashar who was lurking nearby fired in the rebound but was adjudged offside.
Shabab Al Ahli got their act together and Azizjon Ganiev tested the Saudis with a fine run from the right in the 26th minute but his fine effort was thwarted by goalkeeper Mohamed al-Owais.
Owais foiled another Ganiev effort a minute later but was not lucky a third time as the Uzbek midfielder this time decided to go for a long-ranger.
After receiving a pass from Mohamed Juma in the 28th minute, Ganiev took some time to line up his shot before unleashing a powerful drive from 27 yards that took a slight deflection from Abdulbaset al-Hindi and beat Owais all ends up.
Ganiev, however, went from hero to villain early in the second half by bringing down Muwashar in the box and Somah made no mistake from the spot to restore parity.
Both sides missed several chances after that with the match eventually going to penalties.
Also at the Al Janoub Stadium, Pakhtakor fought their way past Esteghlal after Ali Karimi had put the Iranians ahead with a curling free-kick from just outside the box in the 32nd minute after Mehdi Ghaedi was fouled by Khojiakbar Alidjonov.
The enterprising Uzbeks were not dispirited in the least and largely controlled proceedings with 64 percent ball possession.
They got back into the match in style, Serbian striker Dragan Ceran producing a strong header from close off a cross from Alidjanov two minutes before half-time.
And it took them less than two minutes after the break to get ahead, Swiss forward Eren Derdiyok drilling a half-volley from just inside the box following a great move featuring a series of passes on the right flank.
Late in the match, Esteghlal had their last chance to restore parity, but Malian forward Cheick Diabate inexplicably sent the ball wide after beating his marker and having the goal all to himself.
© 2020 AFP