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West Zonal SF 2nd Leg: Al Ahed FC 0-0 Al Wehdat (Al Ahed win 1-0 on agg)

Beirut: Al Ahed held on to a goalless draw against Al Wehdat at the Sport City Stadium to book the first ticket to the 2019 AFC Cup West Zonal Final with a 1-0 aggregate win.

The Lebanese champions had earned a hard-fought victory in Amman a week earlier thanks to Mohammad Kdouh’s strike, and a draw was all they needed on Monday to reach the Zonal Final for the first time in their history.

After a cagey start, Ahmad Zreik thought he had opened the scoring for the hosts halfway through the opening 45 minutes when he cut inside on his left foot and unleashed a powerful drive from 30 yards out that beat goalkeeper Abdallah Al Fakhouri. Luck was on the side of Al Wehdat goalkeeper as the ball bounced off the post and into his arms.

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With just three goals conceded all tournament, Al Ahed goalkeeper Mehdi Khalil made a rare mistake, failing to properly clear a cross from the right, instead punching the ball into the path of Saeed Al Murjan whose shot towards the empty net was tame, allowing defender Khalil Khamis to clear it off the goal line and keep his side ahead on aggregate.

The first half ended goalless, despite six minutes of added time, Ahmad Elias’ free-kick just before the break narrowly missing the target for Al Wehdat.

In the absence of star striker Baha Faisal, the burden of finding the goals fell on Hamza Al Dardour’s shoulders, and inside eight minutes of the restart, he had a golden chance to find one. Rajaei Ayed found Al Dardour in space on the edge of the box, and the Number 99 rifled towards the far corner, but his effort sailed just wide.

Al Dardour set up Anas Hammad after a swift exchange of passes around Al Ahed’s box and Hammad drilled one from just outside the area, forcing a diving save from Khalil.

Al Wehdat continued to throw everything at their opponents, but a combination of resolute defending from Al Ahed and wasteful finishing from the Jordanians meant there would be no way through for Abdullah Abuzema’s men.

Ecstatic celebrations ensued at the final whistle as Al Ahed walked away with a place in the Zonal Final thanks to their first-leg triumph.

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