Group A: Istiklol, Shabab Al Ahli Dubai share spoils in AFC Champions League opener
Riyadh: Tajikistan’s FC Istiklol announced their AFC Champions League arrival by battling their way to a scoreless draw against Shabab Al Ahli Dubai FC at King Fahd International Stadium on Thursday.
Appearing in the group stage of Asia’s premier club competition for the first time, Istiklol defied expectations to keep Mahdi Ali’s talented attacking line-up at bay in their opening Group A encounter.
In addition to making Istiklol the first team from Tajikistan to win an AFC Champions League point, the result keeps Group A’s teams on even keel after Al Hilal and AGMK drew 2-2 in Thursday’s other clash.
Group A: AGMK hold Al Hilal in AFC Champions League debut
Riyadh: Debutants AGMK FC marked their continental debut with a famous 2-2 draw against three-time Asian champions Al Hilal SFC on Matchday One of the 2021 AFC Champions League Group A at Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium on Thursday.
The 2019 AFC Champions League winners started brightly and looked to take the game to their opponents from the start, but within 11 minutes they had fallen behind against the run of play.
A poorly weighted back pass from Mohammed Al Burayk to goalkeeper Abdullah Al Mayouf invited pressure from Zafar Polvonov who stole the ball from Al Hilal’s skipper and slotted into the empty net to hand the Uzbek side a shock lead.
Group C: Al Duhail impress in AFC Champions League win over Al Shorta
Jeddah: Al Duhail made a successful start to their 2021 AFC Champions League group stage campaign, easing to a 2-0 win over Al Shorta of Iraq on Thursday.
In control for much of the match, the Qatari club went ahead through Michael Olunga's goal nine minutes before half-time before a picturesque Edmilson Junior volley made the points all but safe in the 53rd minute.
The result installs Al Duhail as the early leaders in Group C, with only the group winners and three best runners-up to advance to the knockout stage from the West Zone.
Sharjah’s Al Anbari lauds players’ discipline, Odisho rues Air Force Club mistakes in AFC Champions League opener
Sharjah: It was a tale of contrasting defensive performances as Sharjah FC snatched a 1-0 win over Air Force Club on Matchday One of the 2021 AFC Champions League Group B on Wednesday.
The Iraqi side were in control for extended spells of the first half but were unable to unlock Sharjah’s defence and ultimately paid the price as they came undone an hour into the proceedings with a swift counter-attack allowing Caio to find Khalid Bawazir at the far post to slot home the winner for the home side.
An opening day victory for head coach Abdulaziz Al Anbari’s men puts them in Group B’s driving seat after the earlier Matchday One fixture ended in a 3-3 draw between Pakhtakor and Tractor FC.
Foolad, Al Sadd seek improvements after AFC Champions League stalemate
Riyadh: Foolad Khouzestan FC were denied a win in their 2021 AFC Champions League Group D opener against Al Sadd, but head coach Jesus Javier Noble believes the 1-1 draw will drive his inexperienced side to improve.
Foolad looked to have sealed a famous win through Brazilian striker Chimba's 61st minute goal but Al Sadd fought back and were rewarded by Boualem Khoukhi's 89th minute equaliser.
Despite the disappointment of missing out on three points at the very end, Foolad can take heart from their performance and look forward to Saturday's tie against Jordan's Al Wehdat. Al Sadd will face Saudi Arabia's Al Nassr.