(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Al jazira?s first loss in this year?s competition meant they dropped down to second in group a after saudi arabia?s al shabab had blanked al rayyan of qatar in doha
Action during the afc champion league match between al jazira and esteghlal. —kt photos by shoaib anwer
Al jazira coach walter zenga had asked his players to play a good and great 90 minutes on the eve of their match against esteghlal. the abu dhabi club did follow the italian’s instructions but they couldn’t find their scoring boots on the night.
The ‘spiders’ missed a flurry of opportunities before going down to the iranian club by a solitary goal in the afc champions league at the mohammed bin zayed stadium on wednesday night. after a goalless first half mohammad ghazi najafabadi fired the match-winner to give esteghlal their first win over al jazira.
Al jazira’s first loss in this year’s competition meant they dropped down to second in group a after saudi arabia’s al shabab had blanked al rayyan of qatar in doha. al shabab lead with nine points followed by al jazira with seven.
It was the first time that al jazira had lost in eight games against esteghlal. they had won twice and drawn five games.
Al jazira’s moroccan midfielder abdelaziz barrada was fit to start after recovering from an injury sustained during the arabian gulf league game against al nasr.
Al jazira who have been a roll in the asian competition this season began well and came close on 10 minutes through ali ahmed mabkhout but the impressive striker’s effort was pushed away for a corner by goalkeeper mahdi rahmati.
Al jazira kept up the relentless pressure and had a look at goal again in the next minute. january signing felipe caicedo and mabkhout came up with a fine move before setting it up for ahmed rabia al ghilani. but al ghilani shot was again pushed away for a corner by rahmati.
Al ghilani was to resurface again on 15 minutes but after being crowded by the esteghlal defence the 18-year-old fired it wide of the post.
Esteghlal’s first opportunity came on 25 minutes but mohammed ghazi najafabadi’s header just missed the target.
Al jazira had another chance but defender shin hyung-min shot into the side of the net off an abdelaziz barrada freekick. then ali mabkhout had three chances which should have put the abu dhabi heavyweights ahead but his two attempts were cleared off the goalline while the other effort just went wide of the post.
Al mabkhout kept at it and came close after the break but he was to be denied yet again.
Esteghlal had a very good chance on 52 minutes but goalkeeper al khaseif came up with a brilliant save to deny pejman nouri.
Al jazira’s abdulla mousa suffered an injury on 65 minutes and had to be stretchered off. the lanky defender juma abdulla came in his place.
Despite al jazira’s dominance esteghlal went ahead against the run of play with mohammed ghazi najafabadi putting his side ahead with 20 minutes left on the clock.
That goal gave esteghlal more confidence and they came close to doubling the lead with nine minutes left but andranik teymourian’s pile driver was blocked by ali khasief.
Al jazira went for broke in search of the equaliser in the dying minutes but felipe caicedo’s attempt was blocked before ali mabkhout drilled it over the cross bar. al jazira travel to doha to face al rayyan in their next game on april 16.