Dubai: It was a winning return to Al Ain for former manager Zoran Mamic as Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal edged past the Garden City side 1-0 in their Asian Champions League Group C clash at the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium on Tuesday night. Mohammad Al Shalhoub scored the winning goal in the 65th minute.
Mamic left Al Ain at the end of January to take over at the Saudi club, with Spaniard Juan Carlos Garrido stepping in at the Arabian Gulf League champions.
The Saudis held the upper hand from the outset, Brazilian Carlos Eduardo forcing a save from Al Ain goalkeeper Khalid Eisa as early as in the third minute.
After Al Hilal failed to score from a couple of half-chances in the first half, Eduardo found himself in the thick of the action five minutes after resumption, but much to his agony his shot crashed against the upright.
But Al Hilal’s constant pressure eventually paid off when captain Al Shalhoub profited from a cross from Mohammad Al Buraik and blasted home to seal an invaluable away win.
In the other Group C match, former Bayern Munich and Juventus star Medhi Benatia struck a 56th-minute goal as Qatar’s Al Duhail powered to a 3-0 win over Iran’s Esteghlal.
In Group D, Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor drew 1-1 with Persepolis and 2011 champions Al Sadd of Qatar fell to a 2-0 defeat to Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli in Jeddah.