Al Ain achieved a moral victory over its host Ahal Al Turkmani 2-1, today, Tuesday, in the sixth “final” round of the group stage of the AFC Champions League, raising its score to 15 points at the top of the group, while the hosts’ points were frozen at four in last place.
Moroccan Sofiane Rahimi opened the scoring in the 13th minute from the penalty mark, and his Romanian teammate Amir Etzeli increased Al-Zaeem’s lead with the second goal in the 32nd minute from the penalty mark as well, while the hosts reduced the score in the 35th minute through Ilman Tagiyev, taking advantage of a defensive error.
The “Purple” team played the match without any pressure, because it ensured its early qualification to the round of 16 since the fourth round, avoiding complex calculations. The match witnessed the participation of a large group of reserve players after Argentine coach Hernan Crespo preferred to rest the starters.
Al Ain, which became the only representative of the Emirates after Sharjah’s exit, will recognize its competitor in the eighth-final round of the competition during the draw that will be held at 11 a.m. on December 21 in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.
Al Ain, the 2003 champion and runner-up in 2005 and 2016, will be among the first-level teams in the Al Gharb region during the draw, alongside the Saudi clubs Al Hilal, Al Nassr and Al Ittihad.
The eighth-round, quarter-final and semi-final competitions are scheduled to be played during the period from February to April 2024, while the final match will be played in a home-and-away format on May 11 and 18.
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