Group B: Al Wahda FSCC (UAE) 3-1 PFC Lokomotiv (UZB)

Abu Dhabi: Al Wahda came from behind to book their place in the 2019 AFC Champions League Round of 16 with a 3-1 win over PFC Lokomotiv in Group B on Tuesday.

The home side came into the match on the back of three consecutive victories; their best-ever run in the AFC Champions League. Lokomotiv, on the other hand, took confidence from their head-to-head record, having won all three previous encounters against the Emirati side.

It was the visitors who had the first chance of the game after a calm opening 10 minutes. Temurkhuja Abdukholikov tried his luck from long range, but his effort sailed high over the crossbar.

Al Wahda responded with a Sebastian Tagliabue header 20 minutes in, but the Argentine also failed to hit the target.

The crowd at Al Nahyan Stadium were made to wait until five minutes before the half-time break to see the first effort on target. Arslanmurat Amanov’s header from Husniddin Gafurov’s cross was coolly collected by Al Wahda goalkeeper Mohammed Al Shamsi.

Coach Andrey Fedorov’s words for Lokomotiv players at the break worked magic as the Uzbeks came racing off the blocks and broke the deadlock within two minutes of the restart.

Half-time substitute Jamshid Iskanderov supplied the ball wide to Amanov who delivered a whipped cross from the right which was met by the towering header of Abdukholikov into the back of Al Shamsi’s net.

Lokomotiv nearly repeated the trick three minutes later, but Gafurov could not direct his header from another Amanov cross.

The home crowd erupted as Al Wahda drew level at the hour mark. A well-worked attacking move saw Mohammed Al Menhali chip a pass for Ismael Matar who cushioned the ball for Tagliabue to strike first-time. The Argentine’s shot was deflected by defender Igor Jelic and past Lokomotiv goalkeeper Javohir Ilyosov to make it 1-1.

Al Wahda were given a golden chance to move in front after Oleg Zoteev handled Khalil Ibrahim cross inside the box and the referee instantly pointed to the spot.

The AFC Champions League top scorer Leonardo stepped up and drilled home his eighth goal of the campaign in the 77th minute.

Al Wahda sealed their victory in added time after a quick break. Al Shamsi sent a long ball for Ibrahim who squared for Leonardo whose finish was deflected by the goalkeeper into the path of Ibrahim who followed through into the back of the net to make it 3-1 at the final whistle.

A club record fourth consecutive win the competition keeps Al Wahda top of the group with 12 points. They travel to Jeddah to face Al Ittihad on the final matchday. Meanwhile, Lokomotiv remain third with four points.

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