Doha (AFP) – Former France international forward Bafetimbi Gomis and Andre Carrillo were on target as Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia grabbed their first AFC Champions League win against the UAE’s Shabab Al Ahli on Sunday.
Three-time Asian champions Al Hilal, who were surprisingly held 2-2 by Uzbek debutants AGMK in their first Group A match, started in style with former Lyon and Swansea City striker Gomis scoring with a calm finish from a Mohamed al-Burayk pass in the 14th minute.
Although Al Hilal were clearly the better side, Al Ahli had a great chance to equalise in the 23rd minute but Igor Jesus fired wide.
The UAE side appeared to be gaining momentum but some shoddy defending left the Peruvian midfielder Carrillo unmarked in the 28th minute to double the lead.
Tajik debutants Istiklol made history with their first win in the tournament as they saw off Uzbekistan’s AGMK 3-2 in Riyadh.
An own goal by Serbian Jovan Dokic gave Istiklol the lead on the stroke of half-time before Manuchekhr Dzhalilov and Muhammodjon Rahimov struck in the 55th and 80th minutes at the King Fahd International Stadium.
Zafar Polvonov scored both AGMK goals but his efforts were in vain as the Uzbeks remain winless from two matches.
Qatar’s Al Duhail were forced to share the honours with Al Ahli after Omar al-Soma scored an added-time equaliser for the Saudi side in a 1-1 draw at the King Abdulla Sports City in Jeddah.
Al Duhail were looking for their second straight win in Group C while Al Ahli were looking to recover from a 5-2 humiliation by Iran’s Esteghlal last week.
Al Duhail fired the early warning shots with forward Almoez Ali going close from an Edmilson cross in the fourth minute and, a few minutes later, Michael Olunga saw his header go narrowly wide.
Al Ahli goalkeeper Mohamed al-Owais produced fine saves from Olunga and Almoez.
Al Duhail kept their intensity after the interval and broke the deadlock in the 53rd minute with Olunga finding the target after a pass by Edmilson, intended for Almoez, was defelcted into his path.
Olunga had a golden chance to double the lead minutes from time but the Kenyan inexplicably skied his shot.
Al Duhail were seconds away from a second consecutive victory when al-Soma struck with a volley in the first minute of added time after the Qataris failed to clear a corner.
Iran’s Esteghlal continued their fine start in Group C with a 3-0 trouncing of Iraq’s Al Shorta to follow their 5-2 opening win against Al Ahli.
Mohamed Naderi put Esteghlal ahead in the 44th minute. Farshid Esmaeli and Chieck Diabate scored early in the second half.