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Group D: Pakhtakor (UZB) 1-0 Al Ahli Saudi FC (KSA)

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Tashkent: Marat Bikmaev's second-half free-kick proved to be the difference as Pakhtakor of Uzbekistan defeated Saudi Arabia's Al Ahli 1-0 in a Group D clash on Tuesday, earning the first win of their 2019 AFC Champions League campaign.

While Al Ahli came into the game on the back of an opening day 2-0 win at home over Al Sadd, Pakhtakor had only one point in their tally following a 1-1 draw with Persepolis in Tehran.

Hosts Pakhtakor started the first half strongly and Bikmaev had a great opportunity to put his side ahead in the 18th minute but his shot failed to trouble Al Ahli keeper Mohammed Al Owais. That would be the story of the first half, with Pakhtakor carving up a number of chances, only to be let down by their finishing.

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Pakhtakor finally broke the deadlock in the 62nd minute, after Bikamev drilled in a free-kick past Al Owais, following a foul by Hussain Al Moqahwi.

The goal seemed to inject a sense of urgency into Al Ahli, whose talismanic striker Omar Al Somah had been kept quiet until then. The Syrian had a go at goal in the 64th minute with a stinging low strike, but saw his effort go wide.

In the 78th minute, Pakhtakor almost got a second goal and it was Bikmaev once again who was involved, getting on the end of Jaloliddin Masharipov's aerial ball, but Al Owais kept the ball out with a point-blank save.

Al Ahli substitute Djaniny led a late offensive surge for the Saudi side but Pakhtakor held on to register their first three points in Asia since May 2016.

Pakhtakor host Al Sadd next in Tashkent on Matchday Three, while Al Ahli face Persepolis in Dubai.

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