Al Wahda rallied from a goal down to beat Uzbekistan’s Lokomotiv 3-1 and storm into the last 16 of the AFC Champions League on Tuesday.
Tashkent-based Lokomotiv had beaten Al Wahda in all their three previous clashes and it appeared that would be the case once again when Temurkhuja Abdukholikov put the visitors ahead in the 47th minute after a gritty first half in the Group B match failed to produce any goals.
Abdukholikov’s powerful header off a whipped cross from the right from Arslanmurat Amanov beat Al Wahda goaleekeeper Mohammad Al Shamsi, stunning the home spectators into silence.
But Al Wahda got lucky in the 60th minute as they equalised through an own goal, defender Igor Jelic deflecting the ball into the Lokomotiv net off Argentine Sebastian Tagliabue’s powerful first-time shot after Esmael Matar had supplied the ball to him.
Fired up, they piled on the pressure and earned a penalty when Oleg Zoteev handled the ball, and Brazilian Leonardo da Silva made it 2-1 from the spot in the 77th minute with his eighth goal of the tournament so far.
The hosts sealed their fourth straight victory in the first minute of added time, Khalil Ebrahim scoring off a deflection from goalkeeper Al Shamsi after he had blocked Leonardo’s shot.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s Al Ittihad also advanced to the knockout stage with a 2-0 win over Qatar’s Al Rayyan in Doha.
Nasser Al Shamrani put Al Ittihad ahead in the 62nd minute off an assist from Fahad Al Muwallad and Brazilian Romarinho doubled the advantage in the five minutes later, with Al Muwallad again the provider.
It was Al Ittihad’s third victory in five matches, but Al Rayyan suffered their fourth loss and crashed out of the tournament with just three points to their name.
From Group A, Iran’s Zobahan and Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr advanced to the last 16 with a draw and a win, respectively.
While Zobahan were held 2-2 by Iraq’s Al Zawraa in Karbala, Al Nassr convincingly beat the UAE’s Al Wasl 3-1 in Riyadh.
Al Nassr and Zobahan will clash next week to decide the group toppers.