Monday saw the first legs of the Round of 16 fixtures of the AFC Champions League get underway. Let's take a closer look at what transpired in those games:
ESTEGHLAL 1-0 AL AIN [Rezaei 90+2']
Iran's Esteghlal will be delighted after grabbing a late goal in the first leg of their Round of 16 fixture against Al Ain, which will see them go to UAE with an advantage.
In what turned out to be a dramatic fixture, both teams were down to 10 men and a late Kaveh Rezaei penalty ensured Esteghlal will be the happier of the two teams, going into the second leg. The game was tense and tight and neither team had chances to snatch a result though Esteghlal striker Farshid Esmaeili forced Khalid Eisa into a couple of saves. But the game took a turn for the worse in the final quarter with Al Ain's Saeed Juma given his marching orders 13 minutes from time for a scything challenge on Seyed Mohsen Karimi.
Eight minutes later Farshid Esmaeili was sent off for retaliating against Al Ain striker Caio following an off-the-ball tussle between the two as the game boiled down. But Al Ain midfielder Lee Myung-joo handled the ball inside his own area and gifted Rezaei a chance to grab his side an advantage and he did that with aplomb.
AL AHLI (KSA) 1-1 AL AHLI (UAE) [Asiri 38' - Esmail 20']
In the battle between 'Al Ahlis', it was the UAE-based side which came out with the advantage of an away goal following a 1-1 draw in Saudi Arabia on Monday.
It was the visitors who got the match well and truly underway with the opener in the 20th minute through Khamis Esmail, despite the home team dominating possession. After the Saudi side's goalkeeper failed to properly punch away Everton Ribeiro's freekick, it fell to Esmail who tucked it away promptly. However, a stung home side attacked with vigour and had their equaliser in the 38th minute. Abdulfattah Asiri latched on to Mohamed Abdelshafi’s chipped through-ball and smashed home a left-footer to restore parity.
Neither team could fashion a winner thereafter and will meet again in UAE for the second leg.
AFC Cup West Zone Semifinal 1st leg:
AIR FORCE CLUB 1-1 AL ZAWRA'A [Radhi 76' - Mhawi 66']
There was a West Zone semifinal between Iraqi rivals Air Force Club and Al Zawra'a in the AFC Cup 2017 on Monday and Iraq's first continental game since 2013 ended in a 1-1 draw.
Air Force Club dominated the initial half of the game but it was Al Zawra'a who had the best chances though a goal eluded them. In the second half, the visitors roared into the lead in the 66th minute through Alaa Mhawi who fired home from the edge of the area after the goalkeeper's punch from a corner landed at his feet. However, their joy did not last long and the defending champions equalised ten minutes later through Amjad Radhi. He smartly turned in Emad Mohsin’s header across goal to ensure the game ended in a draw.
However, Al Zawra'a have the slight advantage of an away goal.