AL-AIN, United Arab Emirates: Al Ain and Al Hilal have it all to play for after an absorbing goalless draw in their Asian Champions League (AFC) quarterfinals first leg here on Monday (Tuesday in Manila).
In sweltering conditions, UAE’s Al Ain, the inaugural winners of the competition and the runners-up last year to South Korea’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, produced most of the chances but some stout defending prevented them from scoring.
Brothers Omar and Mohamed Abdulrahman were in great touch for Al Ain, posing problems for the Saudi visitors throughout the encounter.
In the very first minute Mohamed came close to scoring on a move initiated by his brother but his shot missed the far post by a whisker.
Al Ain thought they had scored in the 25th minute through Douglas off a free kick from Omar but he was ruled offside.
A few minutes earlier Al Hilal’s Syrian star Omar Kharbin had also put the ball in the net from an offside position off a pass from Brazilian Carlos Eduardo.
The saga of missed chances continued but Al Ain suffered a setback when Mohanad Salem received his second yellow card of the match for a rough tackle on Salman al-Faraj.
But despite being down to 10 men for the final quarter, the hosts held on for a draw and will head to Saudi Arabia on September 11 for the all-important second leg.
Quarterfinals action continues on Tuesday with Shanghai SIPG up against Chinese rivals Guangzhou Evergrande and Persepolis facing Al Ahli of Saudi Arabia.