A late goal from substitute Pedro Conde gave Shabab Al Ahli a second consecutive 1-0 win over Shahr Khodro FC in Matchday Four of the 2020 AFC Champions League Group B yesterday.
The two sides went head-to-head again after they had faced each other on Monday in a match that was decided by a piece of individual brilliance from youngster Hareb Abdalla.
Both teams made minimal changes to the starting line-ups from their previous encounter, with Shabab Al Ahli bringing Eid Khamis in for Abdalla al-Naqbi in midfield, while keeper Matin Safaeian made way for young keeper Mohamed Javad Kia and Rouhollah Seifollahi starting in Ali Nabizadeh’s place in the Iran Pro League side.
A lively opening 20 minutes saw little in way of clear-cut chances, with 2015 AFC Player of the Year Ahmed Khalil coming closest with a shot from far away on the left flank being fisted away by 19-year-old keeper Kia.
A few minutes later, Ismail al-Hammadi looked to capitalise on an error by Shahr Khodro defender Ali Nemati, who attempted to pass back to his goalkeeper but weighted the ball too lightly and the Emirati winger stole the ball but fired wide.
On the stroke of the hour, substitute Carlos Eduardo struck the crossbar when Shabab Al Ahli were awarded a direct free kick.
Hero from the previous game, Abdalla came on in the second half and looked as energetic as he was three days ago, managing a shot 20 minutes from time with both sides’ sense of urgency increased as time went on, though stoppages for unintentional handballs and fouls stuttered the rhythm of the game.
Shabab Al Ahli substitute Conde immediately made his mark with his first touch, when he received a dinked ball from Eduardo to put him in on goal, and despite heavy challenge by Shahr Khodro’s Farshad Faraji the Spaniard made no mistake in drilling the shot to the keeper’s right.
The Islamic Republic of Iran side staged a late fight for an equaliser and came agonisingly close when substitute Mohamed Ghazi tapped a low cross inches wide from Majed Nasser’s goal. Substitute Omid Mansouri headed wide in the final minute of stoppage time as the Dubai based side closed their win out.
The result sees debutants Shahr Khodro exit the AFC Champions League having yet to get a point or score a goal, while Shabab Al Ahli are sitting in third place with six points.
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