(MENAFN -Khaleej Times) al ahli scored first and the hosts levelled the result before netted a stoppage-time winner to secure the full points of the match that put them at the top of group-d closer to a spot in the knockout stage of the continent?s club premier competition
Ahli players celebrate after scoring against sepahan. — afpAl ahli’s romanian coach cosmin olariou was over the moon when he saw ismail al hammadi firing home a last gasp strike to earn the red knights a valuable 2-1 win in their away encounter against sepahan in the third round of the afc champions league on wednesday.After two draws against ksa’s al hilal in riyadh and qatar’s al sadd at home al ahli claimed their first victory in the competition. al ahli scored first and the hosts levelled the result before netted a stoppage-time winner to secure the full points of the match that put them at the top of group-d closer to a spot in the knockout stage of the continent’s club premier competition.Ahmed khalil sent a spectacular long range shot to put al ahli ahead in the first half of the closely contested clash but a 74th minute strike from sepahan’s indonesia international sergio van dijk had cancelled al ahli’s advantage.And with al sadd and al hilal sharing a 2-2 draw idoha al ahli have moved alongside the 2011 champions at the top of the table to raise hopes of a first-ever appearance in the knockout stage of the afc champions league in four attempts.
“it was a very tough game for us. frankly speaking i didn’t expect it to be this hard for us” said olariou. “sepahan are a very good side and tonight they played much better than they did in the first two matches. they had quite a lot of chances to score but from our end we tried to cancel their opportunities.“at the end of the day we scored a late winner on a chance we gained at the end of this tough encounter. fingers crossed these three points can help us advance from group stage.” having failed to build on last week’s thrilling 3-2 win over al hilal 2007 finalists sepahan find themselves two points off the pace in third place with three games remaining following a second defeat of the campaign.“we had many chances and had the initiative during most of the game. it was a very unpleasant defeat” said sepahan coach zlatko kranjcar. “nevertheless the result in the other match was in our favour and we still have a chance of qualification.“congratulations to my players who did their best and also to the fans who kept supporting us.”