Al Ahed edge Al Jazeera to make final
Beirut: Al Ahed reached the 2019 AFC Cup Final after a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Al Jazeera in the second leg of the West Zonal Final at Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium on Tuesday.
Al Ahed, who had kept six clean sheets in the 2019 AFC Cup - more than any other team in the competition - controlled the early stages of the game as they maintained position, but failed to create real threats on Al Jazeera's goal.
The Jordanian side came close to scoring in the 21st minute, when Mahmoud Al Mardi sent a cross from a corner kick towards Yazan Al Arab, however, the defender's powerful header was saved by Al Ahed goalkeeper Mehdi Khalil.
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The visitors continued to push forward and just five minutes later, Islam Batran advanced towards the box before sending a clever strike that missed the target by a narrow margin.
Against the run of play, Al Ahed broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute.
Ahmed Akaichi got on the end of a loose ball inside the box after the Al Jazeera defenders failed to clear Rabih Ataya's cross and the number 99 smashed the ball into the back of the net to make it 1-0.
FT: Al Ahed 🇱🇧 1 - 0 Al Jazeera 🇯🇴— AFC Cup (@AFCCup) October 1, 2019
Akaichi's 32nd min goal was just enough for Al Ahed to squeeze past Al Jazeera and move on to the finals. They will now face the winners of Inter-Zone Final match-up between April 25 SC and Hanoi.#AHEvJAZ #AFCCup2019 pic.twitter.com/PJtQNeTIA2
Around the one-hour mark, Al Jazeera nearly levelled things up when Al Mardi went up the wing and sent a cross towards Batran, but the latter's header went just over the crossbar.
Seven minutes later, the Lebanese side came close again through Akaichi who failed to double his tally after dribbling brilliantly past the goalkeeper, but his heavy touch missed the open goal.
Al Jazeera's hopes took a blow when they were reduced to 10 men after Zaid Jaber was shown a second yellow card following a poor challenge on Ahmad Zreik in the 86th minute.
After defeating Al Jazeera 1-0 on aggregate, Al Ahed will face the winners of the Inter-Zone final between 4.25 SC of DPR Korea and Vietnam's Hanoi FC in the AFC Cup final on November 2.
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