Al Ahli to face Pakhtakor in Asian Champions League quarters

(Reuters) - Saudi side Al Ahli advanced to a quarter-finals of the Asian Champions League on Saturday after overcoming a first half deficit and beating Emirati side Shabab Al Ahli 4-3 on penalties.

Midfielder Azizjon Ganiev had opened the scoring in the first half for the Dubai-based Shabab Al Ahli before Omar Al Soma equalised from the penalty spot midway through the second for the Saudi side.

Al Soma actually missed his attempt in the penalty shootout as he tried to lob goalkeeper Majed Nasser with a Panenka-style shot only to watch it hit the crossbar.

Ahmed Khalil and Abdullah Al Naqabi, however, both missed their chances in the shootout to ensure the Saudi side advanced to their first AFC Champions League quarter-final in three years.

The Jeddah-based Al Ahli now face Pakhtakor in the last eight after the Uzbek champions beat Iran’s Esteghlal 2-1 to advance to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2009.

Goals from Dragan Ceran and Eren Derdiyok four minutes apart either side of halftime for Pakhtakor cancelled out an Ali Karimi 32nd minute freekick that left goalkeeper Eldorbek Suyunov flat footed and rooted to the spot.

Asian champions Al Hilal had earlier had their appeal against being kicked out of the competition on Wednesday rejected by the AFC.

The Saudi club were only able to muster 11 players for their final group match after a rash of COVID-19 cases.

Emirati club Al Wahda were also kicked out before the resumption of the Western half of the Asian Champions League in the Doha hub after an outbreak of COVID-19 in their squad.

The resumption of the East Asian half of the competition in Malaysia has been delayed from October to mid-November with the final planned for Doha on Dec. 19.

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Daniel Wallis