Al Duhail held by Al Ahli in Round 6 of 2021 AFC Champions League


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Qatar’s Al Duhail were held to a 1-1 draw by Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli in Round 6, Group C of the 2021 AFC Champions League in Jeddah on Friday.

The result saw both teams fail to make it to the knockout Round of 16 after finishing with nine points each.

Iran’s Esteghlal topped the group with 11 points and progressed to the knockout stage.

Iraq’s Al Shorta (three points) were the other team in Group C.

Al Duhail and Al Ahli went into the game knowing only a win would secure a place in the next stage while a draw would mean both sides would be eliminated at the group stage. With that in mind, they spared no effort to attack their opponents, producing thrilling end-to-end action right throughout.

Al Duhail had the first chance of the game inside two minutes when Michael Olunga rose highest to meet Edmilson’s cross from the corner, but headed just wide. Al Ahli captain Motaz Hawsawi responded in kind, heading Salman Mohamed’s cross high.

An avalanche of chances throughout the remainder of the half produced no goals as Al Ahli’s Driss Fettouhi tested goalkeeper Salah Zakaria from range and Paulo Edmilson Junior chose to shoot straight at Mohammed Al Owais from a tight angle when he had the option of crossing.

Scoring opportunities continued in abundance after the restart, but it was the competition’s top scorer who finally opened the scoring on the hour mark. Olunga lined up a free-kick from 25 yards out and powered in a shot underneath the Al Ahli wall and past Al Owais in the 61st minute for his ninth goal of the campaign.

The goal seemed to have shaken Al Ahli’s confidence as three minutes later, Hawsawi conceded a penalty, bringing down Edmilson inside the box. Olunga stepped up ready to cement his side’s win, but went for power over accuracy and watched his shot cannon off the crossbar and behind.

Substitute Haitham Asiri brought Al Ahli level in the 73rd minute. The 20-year-old controlled Fettouhi’s diagonal pass inside the box and finished with composure past the goalkeeper in the 73rd minute.

Several attempts for both sides, most notably through Olunga and Edmilson for Al Duhail and Alexandru Mitrita for Al Ahli could not produce a winner despite five minutes of added time.