AFC Champions League Review: In-form El Arabi gives Lekhwiya dream start, Diop saves Al Ahli

By Chris Myson 21 February 2017
AFC Champions League Review: In-form El Arabi gives Lekhwiya dream start, Diop saves Al Ahli

In-form striker Youssef El Arabi scored twice as Lekhwiya cruised to a 3-0 victory over Al Jazira to kick off their AFC Champions League campaign in style.

The Morocco international has scored 21 goals in 16 league games for the Qatari side this season and followed up that form with a decisive double against their opponents from the United Arab Emirates.

El Arabi scored the opener after 11 minutes, heading in a cross from Youssef Msakni, with the visitors struggling to make much of an impression going forward.

But the match remained in the balance until the 80th minute when Msakni scored himself, finding the bottom corner after Nam Tae-hee's pass, before El Arabi tapped in Ali Afif's square pass from close range in the last minute.
 

AL AHLI WIN THRILLER

Elsewhere, beaten 2015 finalists Al Ahli grabbed a dramatic 2-1 victory over Esteghlal, courtesy of a double from Makhete Diop. 

The Senegalese forward scored in the last minute of either half to ensure the hosts extended their unbeaten home streak in the Champions League to 12 games.

Diop headed in Everton Ribeiro's cross to seal victory after it had looked like Omid Ebrahimi's impressive 74th-minute volley for the visitors would earn them a point.

Al Ahli had taken the lead in first-half stoppage-time, Diop finding the top corner from close range after a corner had caused confusion in the visitors' defence.

DREAM START FOR DEBUTANTS

Iranian champions Esteghlal Khouzestan beat Al Fateh of Saudi Arabia 1-0 in their first AFC Champions League match.

Defender Abolfazl Alaei scored the only goal for the hosts with 10 minutes remaining, heading in a corner from Peyman Shirzadi.

But there was a better outcome for the other Saudi Arabian team in action, with debutants Al Taawoun earning a 1-0 home victory over Lokomotiv of Uzbekistan.

Captain Talal Al Absi scored the decisive goal midway through the second half, the centre-back heading home Lucian Sanmartean's corner.

Abdulrahman Al Barakah had hit the post for Al Taawoun as Lokomotiv failed to register a shot on target, their campaign getting off to a miserable start.

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