Matchday Three: Iran’s Esteghlal 2- 2 UAE’s Al Ain
Tehran (KNA): Esteghlal of Iran and the UAE’s Al Ain shared the spoils at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in a 2-2 draw on Matchday Three of the 2018 AFC Champions League Group D on Tuesday.
After a goalless first half, Mame Thiam showed intelligent movement inside the box to beat his marker and convert Farshid Esmaeili’s cross from the left flank at the near post, putting Esteghlal in front seven minutes into the second half.
Al Ain restored parity in the 63rd minute when Swedish striker Marcus Berg got on the end of Hussein El Shahat’s cross, beating goalkeeper Hossein Hosseini from a narrow angle.
Berg had a golden chance to give his side the lead ten minutes later after El Shahat was brought down inside the box, but Esteghlal’s Hosseini and the post combined to deny the Swedish international from the spot.
Esmaeili and Thiam combined again in the 77th minute to replicate their effort from the start of the half and put the visitor in the driving seat once more. The Senegalese striker, who joined Esteghlal in February, this time sent his strike into the far corner of Khaled Eisa’s net.
With one minute remaining, Malaysian referee Mohd Amirul Izwan bin Yaacob showed Esteghlal’s penalty once again and Al Ain’s substitute Ahmed Khalil, 2015 Asian Player of the Year, converted the penalty calmly to level the score for the host, extending its unbeaten home record in the competition since February 2016.
Elsewhere, Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia drew 1-1 with Qatar’s Al Rayyan in Riyadh.
Next week, Esteghlal will host Al Ain in Tehran’s Azadi Stadium and Al Rayyan will meet Al Hilal.
Esteghlal remains top of the group with five points, followed by Al Rayyan (three points), Al Ain (three points) and Al Hilal (two points).