Al Shabab wins; El Jaish draws with Al Ahli in ACLAP , Associated Press
May. 14, 2013 5:53 PM ET
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Saudi club Al Shabab came from behind to defeat Qatari-based Al Gharafa 2-1, and El Jaish of Qatar drew 1-1 with Saudi giant Al Ahli in the first legs of the last 16 of the Asian Champions League on Tuesday.
Saudia Arabia forward Nasser Al Shamrani finished confidently in the 83rd minute to give Al Shabab the away win at Al-Gharafa Stadium in Doha. The substitute raced onto a through ball that caught the home side's defense napping and his right-foot strike was too good for goalkeeper Qasem Burhan.
"We got a positive result because we went into the match with a clear strategy, which was to get a positive result before the second leg in Riyadh," Al Shabab coach Michel Preud'homme said. "The players put on a good performance tonight and managed to get an important win. We conceded a goal in the first half which came due to confusion in defense and lack of good coverage.
"The result should not fool us because there is still another match and we haven't qualified yet."
Veteran Australia midfielder Mark Bresciano broke the deadlock in the 42nd for Al Gharafa after being picked out by French striker Djibril Cisse, who is on loan from Queens Park Rangers.
Eleven minutes after the restart, however, Al Shabab leveled when Sebastian Tagliabue curled the ball beyond a diving Burhan. Tagliabue was signed at the end of last season from Al Ettifaq after impressing in the AFC Cup.
"We made several mistakes in the second half which cost us a defeat tonight," said Al Gharafa Habib coach Tounsi, whose team topped Group A with four wins. "The result of the match will make things difficult for us in the second leg, especially because we will be playing away.
"We concentrated well at the start of the match and we put them under a lot of pressure and took the lead, while lack of concentration in the second half cost us two goals. There is still another match to play and we must fight back."
The return leg is Tuesday at King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh.
At Al-Rayyan Stadium in Doha, Al Ahli led when Motaz Almosa's towering header from Mansour Al Harbi's cross found the back of the net in first-half stoppage time. But last year's finalists were denied victory when El Jaish captain Anderson capitalized on a defensive mistake to level in the 76th.
"Al Ahli were the better side tonight but we managed to get a good result," El Jaish coach Razvan Lucescu said. "We produced two different performances in the match and this affected us as Al Ahli controlled the match and managed to create many chances.
"We lost the ball easily in the first half and we didn't build the attack quickly, and Al Ahli's goal put more pressure on us. While in the second half, we changed the formation and we managed to score the equalizer."
Aleksandar Ilic's men had the first meaningful chance when Bruno Cesar darted into the penalty area but goalkeeper Ahmed Sofyan came off his line to clear the danger.
Al Ahli, one of the biggest four clubs in Saudi Arabia, was dealt a blow when goalkeeper Yasser Al Mosailem was carried off on a stretcher with a head injury after clashing with El Jaish striker Wagner Ribeiro with the score at 1-0.
Substitute 'keeper Abdullah Al-Muaiouf was beaten when Brazilian center back Anderson , hammered home a low-angled strike into the bottom corner.
"The draw is a positive result for us looking at the fact that we had difficult circumstances before and during the match," said Al Ahli coach Aleksandar Ilic. "We were better in the first half and missed a lot of chances. Some of our players were injured in the second period and this affected us and we had to defend, and this gave El Jaish the chance to level the scores."
Al Ahli will host the second leg at the King Abdulaziz Sport City in Sharayea on Tuesday.