West Zonal Semi-final - 1st Leg: Air Force Club 3-1 Al Ahed FC
Karbala: Reigning champions Air Force Club of Iraq edged closer to the 2018 AFC Cup West Asia Zonal Final with an emphatic 3-1 victory over Lebanon’s Al Ahed on Tuesday.
Air Force made their attacking intent clear from the start and were in front inside five minutes after a quick break. Amjed Radhi supplied a through pass for skipper Hammadi Ahmed who squared first-time to Emad Mohsin whose finish was blocked by the defence before falling into the path of Radhi, who was left with a simple tap-in into the empty net for his sixth AFC Cup goal of the season.
Ahmed doubled his side’s lead one minute before the end of regulation time, taking advantage of a defensive mix-up to snatch the ball from goalkeeper Mehdi Khalil with a well-taken header from outside the area.
There was still time for the Iraqis to add to their winning margin as substitute Karrar Ali embarked on a jinking run down the left flank before being brought down inside the penalty box by Ghanaian midfielder Issah Yakubu. Another substitute, Salih Sadir stepped up and confidently slotted home from the spot to make it 3-0.
Al Ahed pulled one back in the third minute of added time through Mohammad Kdouh who chested in Hussein Al Zein’s cross from the right wing following a well-worked free-kick to wrong foot goalkeeper Fahad Talib and give his side a glimmer of hope for the return leg.
Kdouh’s all-important away goal for Al Ahed means there is still a battle to be fought in Beirut next week as the Lebanese side look to reverse a two-goal disadvantage.