AFC Champions League: Al-Qahtani's stoppage-time strike earns Al-Shabab draw
Saudi Arabia's Al-Shabab maintained their unbeaten start to the AFC Champions League group phase on Thursday as Hussain Al-Qahtani's stoppage-time strike earned the club from Riyadh a 1-1 draw with Iraq's Air Force Club.
Al-Shabab had won their opening two Group B matches to top the standings but fell behind to a header from Panamanian defender Roderick Miller midway through the second half.
The Iraqis looked set to pick up their second win in three group games but Al-Shabab levelled six minutes into added time when Al-Qahtani's shot from outside the area was deflected past goalkeeper Mohammad Saleh.
Al-Shabab lead Group B at the halfway point with seven points, three ahead of Air Force, with Al Jazira of the United Arab Emirates and Mumbai City from India a further point adrift.
UAE striker Ali Mabkhout secured Al Jazira a 1-0 win over the Indian side, scoring from the penalty spot five minutes before halftime to give Marcel Keizer's team their first win of the campaign.
In Group C, Foolad handed Ahal from Turkmenistan a 1-0 defeat through Moussa Coulibaly's stoppage-time header as the Iranian club remained in contention for a place in the knockout rounds.
Coulibaly was given time and space to score seven minutes into additional time, denying Ahal a second draw in three matches having taken a point from their meeting with Shabab Al-Ahli.
Shabab Al-Ahli were held for the third game in a row on Thursday as Mahdi Ali's side drew 1-1 with Qatar's Al-Gharafa.
Federico Cartabia struck in the 91st minute to cancel out Sofiane Hanni's 44th-minute opener to leave Shabab Al-Ahli in third place in Group C.
The heartwarming, joyful moment Ali Hasan, a Syrian refugee who arrived in Portugal three years ago, received his papers for registration confirming that he could now play for his football team after overcoming a bureaucratic hurdle.— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) March 30, 2022
(We’re not crying. You are.) 🥺❤️ pic.twitter.com/SEVwdLmr42
Al-Gharafa lead the group on goal difference from Foolad with both teams on five points, two more than Shabab Al-Ahli and a further point ahead of Ahal.
In Group D, Edmilson hit a second-half hat-trick to earn Qatar's Al-Duhail a 3-2 win over Pakhtakor of Uzbekistan, the Brazilian netting the winner six minutes from time.
That kept Al-Duhail level on six points with Al-Taawoun of Saudi Arabia, who defeated Iran's Sepahan 3-0 thanks to goals from Nawaf Al-Sobhi, Ze Luis and Yazeed Al-Bakr.
Matches involving teams from the west of Asia are being played in biosecure hubs in Saudi Arabia, with the five group winners advancing to the knockout rounds, where they will be joined by the three runners-up with the best records.