Black Stars skipper Asamoah Gyan scored and laid on an assist for UAE giants Al Ahli who topped their group and moved into the Round 16 of the Asian Champions League after thrashing PFC Lokomotiv 4-0 in their final Group A fixture.
Tuesday night’s resounding 4-0 victory against Lokomotiv in the Asian Champions provided Al Ahli a double dose of delight.
First, the win ensured the 2015 runners-up concluded their Group A campaign as its lead side, as they cruised into the knockout stages for only the second time in the club’s history.
That, then, assured Ahli the second of their twin targets: avoid Al Ain in the last 16. As it is, the UAE rivals have been kept apart, for now at least, no rekindling of the same match-up at the same stage two years ago.
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Instead, Ahli takes on Al Ahli, their namesakes from Saudi Arabia later this month. As Group C winners, Al Ain faces Iran’s Esteghlal. That all-Emirati affair will just have to wait.
Ahli were well worth their win at the Rashid Stadium. They took the lead on 27 minutes when Everton Ribeiro’s free kick was missed by Lokomotiv goalkeeper Mamur Ikromov and misjudged by defender Mohammed Kone, who sent his header skywards, leaving Salmeen Khamis to nod into the empty net.
The goal was welcome in more ways than one: the hosts began the match without Makhete Diop and Ahmed Khalil, their two first-choice strikers, but nevertheless they showed a real cutting edge.
Ahli raced free from their opponents from just before the hour. On 58 minutes, Ismail Al Hammadi’s low shot cannoned off the Lokomotiv post, rebounded onto a prone Ikromov and ricocheted back into the goal.
If that was unfortunate on the Uzbeks, Ahli’s third and fourth owed much to calculated precision from the home side. In the 72nd minute, Asamoah Gyan latched onto the impressive Saeed Abdullah’s pass and raced clear of the Lokomotiv defence, before steadying himself and lifting the ball expertly over Ikromov.
Five minutes later, Ahli’s fourth came from their fourth scorer of the night. This time, Ribeiro chipped Ikromov as well, but did so from close range, a snapshot of the Brazilian’s superb talent. Ahli had also twice struck the woodwork.
Watch a video of Asamoah Gyan's goal below;