Author Topic: AFC Champions League ALAIN (UAE) VS AL-ITTIHAD (KSA)  (Read 2968 times)

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AFC Champions League ALAIN (UAE) VS AL-ITTIHAD (KSA)
« on: October 27, 2005, 02:43:16 AM »





Kallon penalty rescues Al Ittihad
Oct 27, 2005
FootballAsia.com


AL AIN – An 85th minute penalty from Al Ittihad’s Mohamed Kallon saw the defending champions draw 1-1 with Al Ain in the first leg of the 2005 AFC Champions League final.

Al Msarri had given Al Ain, winners of the inaugural AFC Champions League in 2003, the lead and it was looking as though the defender’s 50th minute strike would be enough to see Milan Macala’s side have a goal cushion going into the second leg in Jeddah.

However, a moment of rashness from substitute Gharib Harib left Korean referee Kwon Jong-chul no option than to point to the spot.

Al Ittihad were the victors the last time the two sides last met four years ago, with the Jeddah side winning 2-0 at the Tahnoun bin Mohammed Stadium courtesy of a double from Al Hassan Al Yami in the final match of the 2001 Gulf Club Championship.

It was a meaningless result as Al Ain had already won the six-team round robin tournament but any goals conceded on Wednesday could prove detrimental to the UAE side’s hopes of a second AFC Champions League title.

The dreaded away goal almost came in the sixth minute when a superb first touch from Manaf Abushgeer took him past three Al Ain defenders to set up a shooting opportunity from just outside the box.

Abushgeer struck it powerfully but Al Ain keeper Mutaz Abdullah was able to palm the ball onto the crossbar before it spun out for the first corner kick of the match.

The diminutive 25-year-old was named captain in place of Mohammed Noor who was surprisingly left on the bench by Al Ittihad coach Anghel Iordanescu.

Much to the chagrin of the local and international media that had descended upon Al Ain en masse to cover the match, Al Ittihad had kept their training sessions behind closed doors leading to speculation that the Romanian would have a surprise in store.

However, speculation was rife that former Santos playmaker Tcheco was carrying an injury and he would miss out rather than the Noor, who scored when Al Ittihad defeated Chunnam Dragons 3-2 in extra-time to win the 1999 Asian Cup Winners’ Cup.

Four minutes after Al Ittihad’s stand-in skipper missed with the spectacular Al Ain’s Nwoah Onyekachi missed with the simple.

A rush of blood to the head prevented the Nigerian forward from opening the scoring when he inexplicably blasted the ball over the bar from eight yards out after being set up by a defence splitting pass from defender Abdulla Ali.

Ten minutes later another player of African birth squandered a glorious chance to break the deadlock only this time it was Al Ittihad’s Cameroonian striker Joseph Desire Job  who was the guilty party, heading Ibrahim Sowed’s perfect cross from the right wastefully wide.

Al Ain gradually came into the ascendancy making numerous attacking forays down either flank but lacked the killer touch in the final third.

Their surges forward them susceptible to being caught on the counter attack, a danger hammered home in the 39th minute when a quick break down the left channel culminated in former Inter Milan striker Mohamed Kallon trying his luck with an acrobatic effort after just the Al Ain area.

After missing out the second leg of the semi-final against Al Ain, Subait Khater returned to the starting 11 looking for the sixth goal that would make him the tournament’s leading scorer ahead of Allesandro, who has since departed Al Ittihad’s city rivals Al Ahly, Shandong Luneng’s Zheng Zhiyi and his former China international colleague Li Yi, the charismatic Shenzhen striker, as well as Felix Nzeina of Busan I’Park.

And the reigning UAE Player of the Year came agonizingly close to it just two minutes into the second half when he rattled the Al Ittihad cross bar with a trademark free-kick awarded after Sowed had cynically upended Panama international Luis Tejada.

The near miss galvanized Al Ain and after Saudi international keeper Mabrouk Zaid and showed superb reflexes to save two headers in quick succession, the home side opened the scoring through Ali Msarri.

With the Al Ittihad defence still in disarray in the wake of Al Ain’s blistering start to the second half, they failed to deal with Khater’s 50th minute corner and the ball found its way to Alberto Blanco on the left side of the box.

The second of Al Ain’s Panamanians, who was signed from Russian side Alania Vladikavkaz, whipped a cross into the danger zone and while Zaid saved Msarri’s initial header the ball fell fortuitously at the feet of the Al Ain defender and he prodded home his first goal in ten Champions League appearances.

Job should have drawn Al Ittihad level 13 minutes later but the 27-year-old, on-loan from English Premier League side Middlesbrough, poked the ball wide from six-yards out.

Not surprisingly it was Job’s last action of a disappointing game and he was replaced by veteran striker Hamzah Idriss, Al Ittihad’s second substitution of the night after Sowed made way for Noor, who reclaimed the captain’s armband.

Noor lead by example and attempted to bring his side back into the tie with his customary surging runs from midfield but it was the forward charge of defender Adnan Ibrahim that was the source of the Al Ittihad equalizer.

The 22-year-old defender was brought down in the penalty box by Al Ain substitute Gharib Harib allowing Kallon to coolly convert the resulting spot kick and ensure the two previous ACL champions go into the second leg on an even keel.

The action resumes on November 5 at Jeddah’s Prince Abdullah Al Faisal Stadium, Kick-off is at 19:45hrs local time.
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