Despite boycott, Saudi team Al Ahli draws in Qatar in ACL
Al Ahli, the first Saudi Arabian soccer team to travel to Qatar since a regional boycott of the country began nine months ago, drew with Al Gharafa 1-1 in Doha in the Asian Champions League on Monday.
Also, Persepolis of Iran moved to the top of Group C on goal difference, and Al Sadd of Qatar lost for the first time in three group matches.
Last June, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt severed all ties - including travel - with Qatar after accusing the country of supporting terrorism.
Despite requests from the UAE and Saudi Arabia football bodies to play at neutral venues, the Asian Football Confederation insisted in January they play home and away as scheduled.
Al Ahli, a two-time league finalist, took the lead an hour in through Aqeel Balghaith’s header.
On the verge of a third successive win in Group A, Al Ahli conceded the equalizer deep into second half injury time when Wesley Sneijder’s cross was headed off the post by defender Rubert Quijada, who drove home the rebound.
The unbeaten Al Ahli remained the group leader, three points ahead of Al Jazira.
Al Jazira of the UAE and Tractor Sazi of Iran drew 0-0.
First-half goals from Farshad Ahmadzadeh and Ali Alipour led Persepolis past Al Wasl 2-0 and into first place.
UAE visitor Al Wasl was handed a third consecutive defeat.
Al Sadd, the 2011 champion and missing its Spanish star Xavi, dropped its first points in Uzbekistan where it lost to Nasaf Qarshi 1-0. Azizjon Ganiev got the goal at about the hour mark.
Nasaf, Al Sadd and Persepolis were tied on points after two wins and a loss each.