West Zonal Final - 1st Leg: Al Jazeera 0-0 Al Ahed FC
Amman: Lebanon’s Al Ahed held Jordan’s Al Jazeera to a 0-0 draw in the first leg of the 2019 AFC Cup West Zonal Final at Amman International Stadium on Tuesday.
Both sides came into the game with a solid defensive record behind them.
Al Jazeera had not conceded a single goal in their past four home matches, while Al Ahed kept six clean sheets in the 2019 AFC Cup; more than any other team in the competition.
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A first-minute shot from Lebanese international Rabih Ataya was collected by goalkeeper Ahmad Abdel-Sattar. It would prove to be Al Ahed’s only clear sight on goal for the remainder of the opening half.
The hosts dominated the ensuing 44 minutes and had several chances throughout. Defender Yazan Al Arab lost his marker and rose to head from Ahmad Saleh’s free-kick 20 minutes in, but he could not direct his header goalward.
Four minutes later, Al Ahed goalkeeper Mehdi Khalil was called into action. Mahmoud Al Mardi collected the ball on the edge of the penalty box and sent a curling effort into the top corner but an alert Khalil tipped it behind.
Al Jazeera continued to throw everything at their visitors and had their biggest chance of the first half in added time when Mohannad Sulaiman supplied a perfectly-weighted through pass for the overlapping Feras Shelbaieh who went through on goal and attempted a finish from a tight angle but Khalil threw his body at the ball and made the save.
The pattern continued after the break and the Jordanians came as close as possible to taking the lead without actually doing so in the 58th minute when Al Arab was again first to a Saleh cross and his towering header beat the goalkeeper but bounced off the upright to keep the scores level.
Coach Bassem Marmar was successful in getting his players to limit Al Jazeera to chances few and far between.
The hosts had to resort to long shots in an effort to break Al Ahed’s defences, but Sulaiman and Zaid Jaber both failed to find the target from long range as the final whistle announced a goalless draw in Amman.
Al Ahed may have failed to find the crucial away goal, but they take a draw into next week’s second leg at their home ground in Beirut where they are unbeaten in the 2019 AFC Cup.