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Al-Gharafa hold on for a draw against Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ahli in AFC Champions League

Al-Ahli's Saleh al-Amri (R) fights for the ball with Al-Gharafa's Khaled al-Zereq during the AFC Champions League match between Saudi's Al-Ahli FC and Qatar's Al-Gharafa at the King Abdullah sports city in Jeddah. (AFP)
JEDDAH: Al-Ahli extended their unbeaten run in the 2018 AFC Champions League to four games after a 1-1 home draw against Qatar’s Al-Gharafa in Group A on Tuesday.
The Qataris came very close to stunning their Saudi Arabian hosts in the sixth minute when Abdelaziz Hatem rattled the right post after a cross from Wesley Sneijder.
Al-Ahli improved as the game went on, with Saleh Al-Amri taking advantage of a misplaced pass to break through on goal but failed to take his chance. At the other end of the pitch, Moayed Hassan tested the goalkeeper from distance but Yasser Al Mosailem was well positioned to save.
Al-Gharafa almost opened the scoring in 19th minute when Mehdi Taremi found himself in front of an empty net after onrushing goalkeeper Al Mosailem failed to clear a ball from Assim Madibo but the Islamic Republic of Iran international somehow missed the target.
Goalless at the break, the Qataris finally took the lead through Taremi who converted a cross from Hassan in the 56th minute.
Al-Gharafa’s joy didn’t last for long as Al-Ahli responded just two minutes later when Saeed Al-Muwallad crossed for Moamen Zakaria, who headed home at the far post.
The Saudis almost had a smash-and-grab winner when Ioannis Fetfatzidis cut inside from the right flank and shot, but it came off the far post. Zakaria found the rebound but failed to net the second goal as his attempt sailed above the crossbar 15 minutes before the final whistle.
The result keeps Al Ahli top of Group A with eight points ahead of their game against Tractorsazi Tabriz while Al-Gharafa are on five points, level with Al-Jazira who they host next.