Qatar’s Al Duhail and the UAE’s Al Ain were locked in an absorbing 2-2 draw in their 2019 AFC Champions League Group C match on Monday.
Al Duhail could have even won the game had they capitalised on their chances, especially in front of the goal. Al Ain owed much to goalkeeper Khaled Eisa for helping them limit the damage while their frontline utilised two of the three chances that came their way.
Al Duhail got off to a flying start, with Paolo Edmilson forcing Eisa into a reflex save within just three minutes from the start. The Brazilian received a cross-field pass and cut inside onto his left before firing low, but Eisa dived to parry the ball away.
Right-back Mohammed Moosa followed suit minutes later with a drilled effort from 30 yards out, but Eisa was again live to the threat.
The UAE international was left with little to do in the ninth minute as Al Duhail captain Karim Boudiaf struck the opener. Edmilson was again the danger man down the right wing, finding space and crossing for Boudiaf who hit on the half-volley from the edge of the box to put the hosts in front.
Al Duhail’s dominance continued and Rui Faria’s men doubled their lead in the 32nd minute through Yousef El Arabi.
Moosa exchanged a quick one-two with Boudiaf to free himself down the right flank before sending a low cross for El Arabi to score.
The home fans’ joy was cut short as Al Ain responded instantly through Jamal Maroof. Eisa’s long ball was nodded on by Tongo Doumbia into the path of Maroof who coolly slotted home to half the deficit just three minutes after Al Duhail’s second goal.
The 2019 AFC Asian Cup MVP and top scorer Almoez Ali thought he had made it 3-1 just before the break when he controlled Edmilson’s cross and applied the finish from six yards out, but Eisa produced a superb save to deny the striker and keep the margin at one goal.
After the restart, Al Ain were a revitalised side, pressing higher up and creating opportunities. They were rewarded with a penalty kick in the 53rd minute after Maroof was brought down inside the box by Moosa.
Caio stepped up to take the penalty, but goalkeeper Amine Lecomte picked the right side and made the save before Amer Abdulrahman skied the rebound.
The Al Duhail goalkeeper was at the receiving end soon after he spilled an attempt to handle Maroof’s cross and Marcus Berg punished him, stabbing in the equaliser in the 58th minute.