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Mohamed Abdel-Shafy plays 90′ as Al Ahli lose to Naft Tehran
Mohamed Abdel-Shafy started and played 90 minutes last night as Al Ahli of Saudi Arabia were defeated 1-0 away from home by Naft Tehran in the first leg of their AFC Asian Champions League Round of 16 clash.
The Iranian side were the favourites heading into the tie, with the home ground advantage ultimately proving to be the deciding factor in the game, spurring on the Tehran based side to set up a tantalising second leg in Saudi Arabia next week.
Naft dominated early on, holding the majority of possession in a cagey, tentative affair which saw hardly any action in the first 30 minutes. Shots were limited to long range efforts, with both sides not wanting to commit too many forward ahead of the second leg. The first chance of the game fell to the hosts inside the first minute after Al Ahli custodian Abdullah Al Muaiouf reacted sharply to a miss hit cross to stop the ball from going into the back of the net.
The hosts were rewarded for their perseverance in the 34th minute, with Iranian international Gholamreza Rezaie flicking home with the outside of his right boot from near the penalty spot following a first time square ball from Naft winger Amiry. The goal gave the home side a confidence boost, with the majority of the remaining first half possession going the way of Naft, who took a 1-0 lead into the start of the second half.
Naft Tehran had a brilliant chance to double their lead in the 64th minute but were denied by the outstretched foot of Al Ahli goalkeeper Al Muaiouf, with Saied Lotfi’s cross goal shot destined for the bottom left hand corner of the net but for the keeper. Naft thought they had surely sealed the game 12 minutes from time but for the brilliance of Al Muaiouf, who was Al Ahli’s standout player. The Saudi side’s keeper got a strong hand on a top corner destined 25 yard free kick from Naft’s Iman Mobili, pushing the ball onto the woodwork and gathering the rebound.
The match ended 1-0, with Naft not being able to add another goal to pile pressure on Al Ahli ahead of the second leg. The second leg will be played this coming Wednesday, the 27th of May, with Al Ahli needing to cut the deficit at home against the Iranians.
MATCH HIGHLIGHTS BELOW: