08.04.2019 21:30 h

Eisa shines as Al Ain hold Duhail

UAE giants Al Ain bounced back from a two-goal deficit to clinch a thrilling 2-2 away draw against Qatar's Al Duhail in the AFC Champions League on Monday.

Karim Boudiaf had put the hosts ahead in the ninth minute of the Group C match at the Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium in Doha as Al Duhail looked to bounce back from the disappointment of finishing second to Al Sadd in the Qatar Stars League.

But after the prolific Youssef El Arabi helped Rui Faria's side consolidate with a 32nd-minute strike, Al Ain hit their groove and began clawing back into the game.

They reaped an immediate reward for their efforts when Jamal Maroof pounced on a headed pass from Tongo Doumbia after receiving a long ball from goalkeeper Khalid Eisa and calmly found the mark in the 35th minute.

Al Duhail came close to restoring their two-goal advantage but goalkeeper Eisa produced a stunning save from six yards off Almoez Ali, the top scorer in the Asian Cup which Qatar won earlier this year.

Eisa in fact was the star of the match on Monday, pulling off an array of brilliant saves to frustrate Al Duhail and help his side stay alive in the contest.

Al Ain were the more industrious side in the second half and created several opportunities, although they failed to take advantage of a penalty in the 53rd minute as Duhail goalkeeper Amine Lecomte guessed correctly and thwarted Caio's shot after Maroof was brought down by Mohammed Musa.

Lecomte, however, went from hero to villain in a matter of minutes as he failed to collect Maroof's cross cleanly and Marcus Berg equalised before the hour.

Eisa later produced another fine save from El Arabi in the last minute to thwart the hosts.

Also in Group C, Iran's Esteghlal edged past Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal 2-1, with Ali Karimi and Pejman Montazeri on target in the first half.

Senegalese Bafetimbi Gomis pulled once back for Al Hilal in the 71st minute but despite the defeat the Saudi side stayed atop the standings with six points, with Duhail second on four.

Meanwhile, Iran's Zobahan shrugged off an early goal deficit to outclass the UAE's Al Wasl 3-1 at the Zabeel Stadium in Dubai to top Group A with seven points from three matches.

Brazilian Caio had put Al Wasl ahead in the 14th minute but the hosts fell apart after that as Nigerian Ighodaro Osaguana (16), Amir Motahari (35) and Hamid Bouhamdan (86) all found the target to give Zobahan a comfortable win.

In another Group A match, Saudi's Al Nassr thrashed Iraq's Al Zawraa 4-1 for their first win in three matches.

Ahmed Fadhil had put Al Zawraa ahead in the 12th minute but goals from Abdullah al-Salim and Yahya al-Shehri later in the first half gave Al Nassr a 2-1 lead going into half-time.

Omar Hawsawi and Giuliano Victor put the outcome of the match beyond doubt with fine second-half goals, but Al Nassr stay at the bottom with three points, having lost their previous two matches.

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