Matchday Three - Group D: Al Ain 2-2 Esteghlal
Al Ain: Al Ain left it late to rescue a point at home against Esteghlal as the two sides played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on Matchday Three of the 2018 AFC Champions League Group D.
After a goalless first half, Thiam showed intelligent movement inside the box to beat his marker and convert Farshid Esmaeili’s cross from the left flank at the near post, putting Esteghlal in front seven minutes into the second half.
Al Ain restored parity in the 63rd minute when Swedish striker Marcus Berg got on the end of Hussein El Shahat’s cross, beating goalkeeper Seyed Hosseini from a narrow angle.
Berg had a golden chance to give his side the lead ten minutes later after El Shahat was brought down inside the box, but Esteghlal’s Hosseini and the post combined to deny the Swedish international from the spot.
Esmaeili and Thiam combined again in the 77th minute to replicate their effort from the start of the half and put the visitors in the driving seat once more. The Senegalese striker, who joined Esteghlal in February this time sent his strike into the far corner of Khaled Eisa’s net.
There was room for one more twist as substitute Pejman Montazeri’s first contribution to the game was to bring down Al Ain’s own substitute Ahmed Khalil inside the box. The 2015 Asian Player of the Year converted the penalty calmly to level the score for the hosts, extending their unbeaten home record in the competition since February 2016.