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Group C: Al Ahli Saudi defeat Al Shorta to revive AFC Champions League hopes

Jeddah:  Al Ahli Saudi FC got their first win of the 2021 AFC Champions League, defeating Iraq’s Al Shorta 3-0 on Matchday Three of Group C at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium on Wednesday.

Both sides had been winless in their first two games, with Al Ahli a point ahead of their opponents thanks to Omar Al Soma’s last-minute equaliser against Qatar's Al Duhail SC in the previous game.

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A cagey start to the game saw chances few and far between in the opening proceedings. Al Shorta had their first chance 10 minutes in as Mohammed Qasim cut inside from the right flank and fired a powerful effort that struck the side netting.

Al Ahli responded seven minutes later with a curled shot from youngster Abdulrahman Ghareeb, but goalkeeper Ahmed Basil had little trouble in making the save.

The deadlock was broken midway through the opening half as Ghareeb dribbled into the box and fed Al Soma whose first-time left-footed shot was scuffed but found its way to full-back Abdullah Tarmin who kept his composure and applied the finish at the near post to put Al Ahli in front.

Eight minutes before the end of the first half, Al Ahli doubled their tally as Moroccan midfielder Driss Fettouhi picked up the ball 30 yards from the opposition’s goal and sent a curled strike that nestled into the back of the net, leaving the Iraqi goalkeeper helpless.

Comfortable with their lead, head coach Laurentiu Reghecampf’s men kept possession and looked to see the game off while Al Shorta were the more dangerous of the two sides.

Qasim continued to be lively in attacking areas and could have opened Al Shorta’s account in the competition at the hour mark after he hit Fahad Youssef’s cut-back on the half-volley from the edge of the box, but goalkeeper Mohammad Al Owais was alert to make a rare save.

With what was the very last kick of the game, Ghareeb deepened Al Shorta's wounds, breaking free on the counter and keeping his cool to finish past Basil to make it 3-0 at the final whistle.

The result means Al Ahli Saudi close the gap on group leaders Al Duhail to three points but remain in third place while Al Shorta’s pursuit of a first point continues in three days’ time when the two sides face again on Matchday Four.

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