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Group A: Late winner takes Al Ahed into AFC Cup West Zonal last four


Manama: Nour Mansour’s dramatic late header secured Al Ahed a place in the 2021 AFC Cup West Zonal semi-finals with a 2-1 win against host side Al Hidd Club, in the conclusion of Group A on Thursday.

The result sees Lebanon's Al Ahed - the 2019 AFC Cup winners, progress while Al Hidd have been knocked out of the 2021 AFC Cup.

Al Ahed will play Group B winners Al Muharraq in the West Zonal semi-final while Kuwait SC will face Jordan's Al Salt.

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The lively Amro Jeniat dictated play for Al Ahed, creating no less than three chances in the opening 15 minutes through combining with Mohamad Haidar, as Bahraini keeper Abbas Khamis was forced into a crucial save when Jeniat received a low cross into the area and fired straight at him.

The hosts came agonisingly close midway through the first half when Erick Luis gathered a loose ball on the byline and flicked Ahmed Merza in, who in turn played the ball through to legendary striker Nasser Al Shamrani, with Al Shamrani somehow missing from point-blank range with the rebound falling to teammate Mohamed Fares, who also missed from close range.

The deadlock was eventually broken with 36 minutes on the clock, when Mansour played a ball from inside his own half that picked out Mohammed Al Wakid, who was charged down by Khamis but the former managed the slightest of flicks to get it past him and into the net to take the Beirut based side ahead.

Al Ahed pushed on to extend their lead in the second half, when Ali Hadid received a ball just outside the area and angled himself to shoot, with his shot forcing Khamis into a full stretch to fist the ball away for a corner.

Selim Nurmuradov, Jeniat and Hadid missed chances for Al Ahed in the opening 20 minutes of the second half, though the biggest opportunity came to Luis who lashed a shot at keeper Mehdi Khalil who was more than equal to it.

Al Hidd drew level in dramatic fashion with just four minutes left on the clock, when Ahmad Youssef crossed in from the left and just as Lebanese keeper Khalil rose to catch the ball, he dropped the ball inches away from the goal-line, leaving both Abdulla Omar and Saad Amer trying to poke in, with Omar succeeding.

Al Ahed settled the tie just three minutes later, when substitute Ali Al Haj’s corner was met by Mansour, whose bullet header kept his side in the competition.

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