Al-Nassr of Saudi Arabia achieved a valuable victory over its host Persepolis of Iran, with two goals to none, in the first round of the AFC Champions League, while Al-Ain of the United Arab Emirates began its journey by achieving a wide result over its host of Pakhtakor of Uzbekistan, 3-0.
Al-Nasr’s goals were scored by Abdul Rahman Gharib (62) and Muhammad Qasim (72), putting the team at the top of Group Five with 3 points, leaving second place to Al-Duhail of Qatar and Al-Istiklal of Tajikia, who tied without goals.
Six minutes after the start of the second half, the referee showed the red card to Persepolis player Milad Sarlak after receiving the second yellow card (52), which was the turning point in the match.
– Al-Nassr Saudi Club (@AlNassrFC) September 19, 2023
Al-Nasr took advantage of its opponent’s numerical deficiency to open the scoring when Abdul Rahman Gharib received a cross and shot it powerfully into the goal after it hit one of the Iranian team’s defenders (62).
Al-Nasr continued its rush towards the attack and strengthened its lead with a second goal when Gharib passed a ball to Muhammad Qasim who shot it powerfully into the roof of the goal (72).
In the same group, Al-Duhail of Qatar settled for a goalless draw with its host, Istiklal of Tajikistan.
The Qatari League champion conceded a victory that was within reach after imposing its great advantage over the course of the match, forcing the home team to defend and rely on counterattacks that did not result in any real threat.
Al Ain, the Emirati champion of the 2003 edition and runner-up in 2005, began its return to the AFC Champions League after a two-year absence with a major victory over its host, Pakhtakor of Uzbekistan, 3-0 in Tashkent in the first round of the first group competitions.
Togolese Laba Kodjo (11 and 66) and Khaled Al Balushi (25) scored Al Ain’s goals.
Al Ain – which missed the last two editions and failed to qualify for the group stage since 2018 – topped the group standings on goal difference from Ahal Al Turkmani, who won over its guest, Al Fayhaa, Saudi Arabia, 1-0.
The visitors opened the scoring early after the star of the match, Kodjo, received Bandar Al-Ahbabi’s cross, evaded the control of defender Dostonbek, and put the ball past Singer Kovatov (11).
Kodjo missed the opportunity to add the second goal after he shot a pass from Paraguay’s Alejandro Romero (Kaku) next to the post (23).
But the Togolese striker compensated by extracting a ball from the midfield and playing the role of playmaker when he passed a ready-made ball to Al-Balushi, who shot it into Kovatov’s net (25).
Al Ain continued its clear advantage and missed (Kakko) completely alone after he shot with a pass from Kodjo next to the post (28).
Kodjo scored the third goal for Al Ain and the second personal goal after a pass from South Korean Park Young-woo (66).
Al-Fayhaa lost its first match in the AFC Champions League, when it fell to its host Ahal, with a goal scored by Elman Tagayev in the 51st minute.