Marquinho and Osama Hawsawi scored to earn Al Ahli a 2-0 win over Qatar’s El Jaish yesterday, but it was not enough to secure Christian Gross’ team a place in the Round of 16 of the 2016 AFC Champions League.
Al Ahli needed all three points while hoping Al Ain slipped up against Uzbekistan’s Nasaf to have any chance of progressing to the knockout phase of the competition.
But with the Emiratis picking up a 2-0 win over Uzbekistan’s Nasaf in the other game played in the group, Al Ahli’s points total of nine from six games left them one adrift as El Jaish and Al Ain booked their places in the next phase.
Al Ahli started impressively and, with 16 minutes on the clock, Mohamed al-Fatil headed just over the bar while eight minutes before the interval Muhannad al-Asiri also saw his headed attempt sail just over the target. In between, Wagner Ribeiro twice tried his luck from outside the area, only for both to be just off target.
Al Ahli’s introduction of Greece international midfielder Giannis Fetfatzidis at the start of the second half turned the game decisively in the home side’s favour. It was from Fetfatzidis’ cross that Ali al-Zubaidi should have scored, but the defender planting his downward header too firmly into the turf before the ball bounced over the bar in the 52nd minute.
Six minutes later Marquinho’s tight turn took him past the El Jaish defence before hitting a shot that was well saved by Saoud Mubarak. Taiseer al-Jassem’s header soon after was straight at the goalkeeper.
Al Ahli finally broke through in the 62nd minute when Fetfatzidis released Mansoor al-Harbi on the left side of the penalty area and his cut-back from the bye-line was parried into the path of Marquinho by Mubarak and the midfielder made no mistake.
Former Al Hilal defender Hawsawi ensured Al Ahli took all three points when he stooped to head the ball home in the 85th minute following Fetfatzidis’ corner from the left side, but in the end it was not enough to maintain the Jeddah-based club’s interest in the 2016 edition of the continental club championship.
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