El Jaish Held to Draw in ACL
Doha: Qatari side El Jaish and Iran’s Foolad Khouzestan split the points after the two teams finished all square following a 0-0 scoreline in the AFC Champions League Group B opening fixture at Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium on Tuesday.
El Jaish hit the woodwork twice through Abdurhaman Akbar and Brazilian striker Nilmar in the second half, as well as boasting the lion’s share of the possession, but they were unable to make a breakthrough against the away side’s tough defensive line.
The result means that Group B is all square after Saudi Arabian champions Al Fateh also shared a goalless stalemate with 2012 semi-finalists Bunyodkor of Uzbeksistan in Tuesday’s other evening game.
A tightly contested first half was high in endeavor but low in clear-cut chances with both evenly-matched sides attempting to take control of the midfield with the home-side edging play.
With opportunities on goal at a premium, El Jaish defender Anderson Martins was on target just after the half hour mark with a long range freekick that saw some late movement but Foolad goalkeeper Sousha Makani was able to parry clear.
And with five minutes to half-time, the visitors had their best chance of the first period as Esmaeil Sharifat jinked his way into the penalty area but after pulling the ball back onto his right foot could only direct his shot on goal narrowly wide of Ahmed Sofyan’s right-hand post.
After the restart, the home side were inches from scoring the opener on 58 minutes after first Abdurahman Akbar’s header crashed against the crossbar and then the follow-up from Nilmar also bounced back off the top of the upright.
El Jaish increased their stranglehold on the ball in the second half but struggled to penetrate the hard-tackling Foolad backline with star forward Nilmar having a particularly frustrating evening, while the Iranian side looked to hit the Qatari side on the counter but lacked creativity further up the field.
In the end, neither side could make the breakthrough and neither Makani nor Sofyan were tested further as the game petered out and the teams settled for a point apiece with the bulk of their AFC Champions League fixtures yet to come.