Matchday One - Group D: FC Istiklol 1-0 FC Ahal
Hisor: Annaguliyev Guychmyrat’s own goal was the difference as last season’s runners-up FC Istiklol got their 2018 AFC Cup campaign off to a positive start with a narrow 1-0 win over Turkmenistan’s FC Ahal on Wednesday.
The only goal of the night came in the 25th minute when Nozim Babadzhanov snatched the ball from the Ahal defence on the right flank and crossed for Zenko Mikalai whose attempt from close range was parried by goalkeeper Ovezmyradov Ovezmyrat, but bounced off Guychmyrat and into the back of the net.
The hosts nearly added another within three minutes of the opener after Babadzhanov applied pressure on his opponents to recover the ball deep inside Ahal’s half and exchange passes with Mikalai before rattling the crossbar with a left footed effort from the edge of the area.
Istiklol were reduced to 10 men in the 86th minute after Sheriddin Boboev picked up a second yellow card for hand ball. The Tajik champions held on to their lead despite the one-man disadvantage to collect their first three points of the competition.
FC Ahal will look to end their winless run in the AFC Cup which now extends to four games as they welcome Kyrgyz Republic's FC Alay next week in Matchday Two. Meanwhile Istiklol travel to Turkmenistan to face Altyn Asyr.