(IranSportsPress – AFC) Kuwait City: Esteghlal secured first place in Group D with a 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal, thanks to Vouria Ghafouri’s goal on Matchday Six of the 2018 AFC Champions League Group D on Monday.
Al Hilal started the brighter of the two sides and had their first attempt on goal six minutes in, when Achraf Bencharki came close to opening the scoring but his header from the edge of the six-yard box sailed over the bar.
The Saudi side continued to produce attacks had their second big chance in the 19th minute when Mokhtar Fallatah received the ball from Mohmmed Al Burayk’s cross and dribbled past his marker before attempting a strike, only to see his chance saved at the bottom left corner.
Despite Al Hilal’s domination, Esteghlal took the lead against the run of play, following a defensive mistake by Saudi international Yasir Al Shahrani after he failed to clear the ball in the penalty area in front of Vouria Ghafouri, who fired a shot into the centre of the net in the 36th minute.
Seven minutes into the second half, Al Hilal almost levelled the score when Fallatah’s shot hit the left post after a pass from Bencharaki. Two minutes later, Ghafouri responded for the Iranian side, rocketing a ball from a narrow angle but his attempt was saved by goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi.
Esteghlal’s victory earned them the top spot in Group D with 12 points, while Al Ain finished as runners-up, two points behind. Last year’s runners-up Al Hilal ended their campaign bottom of the group with just two points.