Abu Dhabi: Khalid Eisa was simply exceptional under the bar as Al Ain rallied from a two-goal deficit to split points with Qatar’s Al Duhail with a 2-2 draw in the AFC Champions League Group ‘C’ fixture at the Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium in Qatar on Monday. At half time, Al Duhail led 2-1.
Karim Boudiaf and Youssef El Arabi scored a goal apiece to put Al Duhail in the lead while Jamal Maroof and Marcus Berg drew level for Al Ain.
With this result, Al Ain remain on fourth spot with two points from three outings, while Al Duhail retain the second spot behind Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal with four points.
Al Ain were straight away put under the pump by the home side with a series of raids. In the fourth minute, a powerpacked left-footer from Edmilson Junior forced Al Ain goalkeeper Eisa to dive full-stretch to keep it out. Then two minutes later, Mohammed Musa’s effort from outside the box was saved in the bottom left corner by Eisa.
With Al Duhail forwards raiding at will, goal scoring looked inevitable and they shot into lead in the ninth minute.
Junior’s cross from the right was followed with a clinical side volley by Boudiaf and this time Eisa was a mere spectator. Al Ain’s Berg had a fine opportunity to draw level in the 17th minute but he lacked the final touches.
Al Duhail then doubled the lead in the 33rd minute. El Arabi found the bottom left-corner of the goal with a neat placement after being set by Musa.
Three minutes later, Maroof reduced the margin for Al Ain against the run of play. He latched on to a long ball from the deep and made a fine run before beating Al Duhail goalkeeper Amine Lecomt with a neat placement. Just before going into the breather, Eisa came up with two brilliant reflex saves to keep Al Ain in the game.
Early into the second half, Al Ain could have drawn level when Maroof drew a penalty after being brought down by Musa. However, Brazilian striker Caio’s feeble effort was blocked by Al Duhail goalkeeper Lecomt. Despite that missed opportunity, Al Ain remained undeterred and Berg managed to make amends with an opportunistic strike two minutes later.
Goalkeeper Lecomt failed to cleanly puck the ball from the air following a cross from the right by Maroof and Berg left unmarked, tapped it home. Thereafter, Eisa came up with a barrage of saves to salvage an important draw for Al Ain.
In another encounter, Al Wasl went down 3-1 to Group ‘A’ leaders Zobahan FC of Iran at home.
Caio put the hosts in the lead in the 14th minute, before Zobahan struck back two minutes through a header from Ighodaro Christian Osaguona. Zobahan then widened the lead to 2-1 following a brilliant strike by Amir Arsalan Motahari in the 35th minute. The tally for the visitors was completed by Hamid Bouhamdan with a right footed effort in the 86th minute.