Group A: Nejmeh SC 0-1 Al Jaish
Beirut: Syria's Al Jaish secured their first win of their 2019 AFC Cup Group A campaign after beating Nejmeh SC of Lebanon 1-0 on Monday.
Nejmeh captain Kassem El Zein nearly gifted Al Jaish the opening goal 10 minutes into the match, but the defender’s miscued clearance was headed just wide by Mohammed Al Wakid.
Nader Matar produced Nejmeh’s first chance of the match in the 21st minute, sending a long range shot that swerved at the last second, narrowly missing the target.
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The Lebanese side grew into the game with every passing minute and came close to taking the lead half an hour in when Mohamed Jaafar embarked on a solo run down the right wing and fired from a narrow angle but was denied by goalkeeper Ahmad Madanieh.
The first goal of the night finally arrived six minutes before the break, but it was the Syrian side that took the lead against the run of play.
Moustafa curled a beautiful free-kick from just outside the penalty box into the top corner of goalkeeper Abbas Hassan’s net to put Al Jaish in front.
Little changed after the restart as Nejmeh continued to keep most of the possession, but without much in the way of scoring opportunities. Ali Al Haj attempted his luck from the edge of the box, but his powerful shot following an intelligently played corner was parried away by Madanieh.
Al Jaish, meanwhile, relied on the pace of Moustafa to hit on the counter, and their efforts were nearly rewarded 15 minutes from the end of the half.
Moustafa advanced down the right and delivered a perfect cross for Al Wakid whose header was on target but failed to beat the goalkeeper.
Abou Bakr Al Mel missed Nejmeh’s biggest chance of the second period, after his attempt to stab in Hassan Maatouk’s cross was rescued by Madanieh.
The result means Al Jaish sit second with four points, behind leaders Al Wehdat who have collected all six points from their first two games. Meanwhile, Nejmeh are on one point with only goal difference putting them ahead of Hilal Al Quds.
Nejmeh travel to Al Ram in Palestine for their Matchday Three encounter against Hilal Al Quds, while Al Jaish’s April 1st match sees them face Al Wehdat in the Syrians’ adopted home in Bahrain.
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