Hebron: Al Muharraq of Bahrain secured their place in the knockout rounds of the 2016 AFC Cup as Group D winners with a 1-1 draw against Ahli Al Khalil that also keeps the Palestinian club’s hopes of a place in the last 16 on track.
The result moved Al Muharraq on to 13 points from five games as Isa Sadoon’s side dropped points for the first time in the competition, but the draw ensured the Bahrainis can not be surpassed at the top of the group.
Ahli Al Khalil now have five points from four games and are in a tussle with Syria’s Al Jaish and Fanja of Oman for the second berth in the knockout phase of the competition.
Highlights after the jump…
Admir Catovic gave Al Muharraq the lead in the 33rd minute only for Mohamed Saleh to level for the Palestinians on the hour mark following an improved second-half performance by the home side.
Al Muharraq went into the game with a perfect record of four wins from their previous four games, including a 2-1 win over Ahli Al Khalil in the teams’ meeting on Matchday One, putting Sadoon’s side on the verge of claiming a place in the Round of 16.
The Bahrainis looked the more determined side in the opening exchanges and, with 12 minutes remaining in the half, the group leaders had taken the lead.
Jamal Rashed picked the ball up inside the Palestinian side’s half and surged towards the penalty area before sliding a perfectly weighted pass into Bosnian Catovic’s path. The naturalised Swede took one touch to control the ball before slotting the ball beyond goalkeeper Azmi Al Shweiki to score.
Minutes later, though, Ahli Al Khalil almost pulled level, only for Mahmoud Wadi to send his header over the Al Muharraq crossbar.
Fifteen minutes into the second half the hosts managed to pull level when the Al Muharraq defence cleared a corner as far as Shadi Shaban and his cross into the area was headed beyond Abdulla Al Kaabi to give Ahli Al Khalil a share of the points.