Group B: Al Ittihad 1-2 Al Najma
Abu Dhabi: Bahrain’s Al Najma came away from Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium with a valuable 2-1 victory over Syria’s Al Ittihad on Matchday Two of the 2019 AFC Cup Group B on Monday.
The Syrians started with a strong attacking intent and had their first real chance within six minutes when Mohamad Muhtadi controlled a cross inside the box and laid it for Mohamad Omar whose left-footed effort from close range was collected by the goalkeeper following a deflection.
Senegalese forward Mouhammadou Drame responded with an attempt from inside the box that was easily caught by the Syrian goalkeeper.
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Al Najma opened the scoring 32 minutes into the match through Bahrain international Ali Madan.
Ibrahim Habib advanced down the right and pulled one back for Ahmed Abdulla whose first-time shot was deflected off a defender and fell to Madan who pounced to sweep home the opener.
The Bahrainis’ joy was short-lived, though, as Al Ittihad were able to restore parity six minutes later.
Omar showed impressive skill to navigate his way past two defenders on the right before delivering a pinpoint cross for Muhtadi who headed home the equaliser in the 38th minute.
Al Najma took the lead again at the hour mark through Drame. Madan intercepted a backpass inside Al Ittihad’s half and supplied a through pass for the Senegalese who finished with venom from close range to make it 2-1.
Substitute Mohamed Tayeb came within a whisker of adding a third goal for the Bahraini side just three minutes after his introduction. The winger dribbled down the left flank and cut inside before drilling into the near corner, but his shot struck the upright and went behind for a goal-kick as the final whistle confirmed Al Najma’s victory.
Al Ittihad travel to Amman next month to face Al Jazeera on Matchday Three, while Al Najma’s April 2 fixture sees them host three-time winners Kuwait SC.
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