AFC Champions League: Olunga on target as Al Duhail SC draw Al Ahli Saudi

The towering Harambee Stars forward opened his goal account in the competition but it was not enough to earn them a win

Kenya international Michael Olunga was on target but Al Duhail SC conceded late as Al Ahli Saudi secured a 1-1 draw in their second Group C match of the 2021 AFC Champions League on Sunday night.

Duhail had taken a deserved lead in the 53rd minute through Olunga but their joy to possibly earn maximum points was cut short in added time as Omar Al Soma scored for the Saudi side to snatch a late draw at King Abdullah Sports City.

Duhail were the better side from the match kick-off as captain Almoez Ali failed to score from a clear chance after Edmilson Junior had done the spadework to feed him with a direct cross, and minutes later Olunga headed wide from a corner kick.

Al Ahli goalkeeper Al Qwais was forced into another save after Olunga latched onto a pass from Abdallah Al Ahrak, rounded two defenders before unleashing a left-footed shot which the keeper punched out for a fruitless corner.

Duhail continued to pile pressure on their opponents but there was no goal in the first half, and on resumption, they continued to attack with every opportunity they got and it was no surprise when they took a deserved lead in the 53rd minute.

Edmilson ran down the right flank and crossed the ball into the area but it was punched into play by Qwais and the ball fell onto Olunga’s path, who did not make mistake to smash it to the net.

Olunga then missed a golden chance to put his team 2-0 up when some smart interplay between his teammates gave him the ball and space in the penalty area, but he hit the ball over the bar.

The missed chances came back to haunt Duhail as Al Soma equalised for the home team at the death when Al Duhail’s defence failed to clear a corner that fell to Motaz Hawsawi, and Soma volleyed it into the net against the run of play.

Duhail coach Sabri Lamouchi expressed his frustration at the end of the game, insisting they had deserved a better result than a draw.

“The draw is not the fair result for this match which we controlled completely and we made many opportunities but it was lost, but the players performed a very good match either in the first or second half but they lost focus in the final minutes of the match due to lack of water due to fasting and it was clear in their performance, and the referee could have given the players a chance to drink water as happens in most leagues in the region,” Lamouchi told the club’s official website after the game.

“At times like this because of humidity and also fasting of the players, and Al Ahli took advantage of this and succeeded in scoring the equaliser goal in the extra time, and I am frustrated because of the great effort the players made in the stadium and they deserved victory.

“We will continue to work to correct all the mistakes that appeared in today’s match and we will come back strongly in the upcoming match because today [Sunday], we lost two points and we must focus more on the upcoming confrontations.”

Meanwhile, Esteghlal FC remained top of the group following a 3-0 win against Al Shorta in the other group match played at the same venue.

Esteghlal scored through Mohammad Naderi in the 44th minute, Farshid Esmaeili in the 55th minute and Check Diabete in the 65th minute to win their second match in the group and they are now on top with six points while Duhail are second on four points, Al-Ahli Saudi third with a single point and Al Shorta last without a point.

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