Matchday Six - Group A: Al Ahli seal top spot
Abu Dhabi: Saudi Arabia's Al Ahli snatched the top spot in Group A after repeating their 2-1 victory over UAE's Al Jazira in the 2018 AFC Champions League Matchday Six.
The visitors needed no more than six minutes to go in front as Hamdan Al Shamrani penetrated into the 18-yard-box from the left wing and pulled back a pass to Salah Al Amri who converted the ball from a narrow angle into the back of the net to give his team an early lead.
Needing to win by a two-goal margin to finish top, Al Jazira pushed forward in search of the equaliser but failed to take their chances, with only Ali Mabkhout coming close to levelling the scoring with a header that ended on the wrong side of the post in the 13th minute.
While the hosts were looking for the equaliser, Al Ahli's Salman Al Muwashar was afforded space to break through on the counter and found Moamen Zakaria who extended the Saudis advantage with a curled strike from the edge of the box into the right corner of the net leaving the goalkeeper Abdulrahman Al Ameri helpless right on the half-hour mark.
With the beginning of the second half, Al Ahli had their first attempt in the 53rd minute when Al Muwashar received the ball on the penalty spot and attempted a shot, only to see his effort saved by Al Ameri.
The visitors played at ease and threatened the Emirati goalkeeper occasionally and managed to create chances through counter attacks until a nervy final 20 minutes.
The hosts regrouped and managed to half the deficit in the 68th minute when Romarinho pounced on a loose ball from a poor clearance by Al Shamarani to set up an exciting final 20 minutes.
Four minutes later, Mabkhout thought he had levelled the scores after he met a pinpoint cross from Mohamed Fawzi first-time, but goalkeeper Yasser Al Mosailem was well-positioned to make the save.
This result means Al Ahli finish the group stage unbeaten at the top of Group A. They set up a date with Qatar's Al Sadd. Meanwhile, Al Jazira who finished as runners-up with eight points, play Islamic Republic of Iran's Persepolis in the round of 16.