Al Jazira spurned a golden chance to boost hopes of making the AFC Champions League’s knockout stages for the first time in four years with their dreadful goalless draw against struggling Iranians Tractor Sazi.
The understrength hosts at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium had the poor finishing of Ehsan Pahlavan to thank, as opponents who sit bottom of Group A dominated.
Asian dreams slipping away
The constant refrain from Jazira manager Henk ten Cate is how important progress on the continent is during this trying season.
In aid of their successful – and shock – pursuit of last term’s Arabian Gulf League-title, ACL ambitions were sacrificed.
Yet at the halfway stage, advancement is anything but assured. All momentum from their opening success against Wesley Sneijder’s Al Gharafa – a first win in 15 games in the competition – has evaporated with a 2-1 loss at Al Ahli Jeddah and this awful display on Monday night.
Victory is now essential next Tuesday in Tabriz as they desperately hang onto second place.
Mabkhout lets Jazira down
When suspensions, injuries and a season of strife all bite, you need your key men to stand tall.
2015 Asian Cup top scorer Ali Mabkhout badly let himself – and his club – down when a booking for dissent post the final whistle ruled him out of the next game.
“He is a role model for young players,” said Ten Cate. “Of course, he is disappointed about what happened after the final whistle.”
With fellow striker Ahmed Al Attas also now banned, a significant game awaits for inconsistent Brazilian Romarinho.
Way off the Mbark
You cannot underestimate the influence of missing Morocco centre midfielder Mbark Boussoufa on the Pride of Abu Dhabi after this turgid encounter.
Suspension ensured the 33-year-old could not be fielded against the Red Wolves. In his absence, panic was induced.
UAE prospect Mohamed Jamal wilted without his experienced partner. His woeful pass to attacker Ahmed Al Attas that ruined a promising counter past the 90-minute mark summed up his loose display.
Persepolis 2-0 Al Wasl
Al Wasl are almost eliminated from the AFC Champions League after a third loss in a row was recorded, this time going down 2-0 at Persian Gulf Pro League holders Persepolis.
A weakened squad was sent to Tehran for this Group B fixture. They performed admirably against strong opponents, who struck both goals just before the interval.
Attacking midfielder Farshad Ahmadzadeh volleyed in a 36th-minute opener. This was soon added to by Red Army striker Ali Alipour’s penalty in front of 33,000 fans.
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