20 apr 20:02
ACL MD5 - GROUP A: AL NASR 1-1 LOKOMOTIV
Jires Kembo-Ekoko put Al Nasr in front with a wonderful individual effort in the 31st minute before Temurkhuja Abdukholikov’s header ensured a share of the points for Andrey Miklyaev’s side.
The result means Lokomotiv move on to nine points from their five AFC Champions League matches so far, with Al Nasr a further point back. Al Ittihad’s win over Sepahan leaves the two-time champions on six points and still in contention as the group stage goes into the final round in two weeks’ time.
“Both teams played well in the match although we had some issues in defence at the start, which we fixed later,” said Lokomotiv coach Miklyaev. “In general, we gave a good performance and were the better side in the second period.
“We always aim to win every match and tonight we were hoping to get the three points. We will play for a win in the last match in order to maintain our unbeaten run in the competition and finish on top of the group.”
Al Nasr took the lead in the 31st minute thanks to a fine solo goal from Kembo-Ekoko, who powered in from the left side, sidestepping past Lokomotiv captain Timur Kapadze before curling his right foot shot beyond Ignatiy Nesterov in the visitors’ goal.
Four minutes later the home side could have doubled their lead, only for Masoud Sulaiman to head over the bar before Lokomotiv pulled level with just three minutes of the first half remaining.
A corner from the Lokomotiv left from former AFC Player of the Year Server Djeparov was flicked on with the faintest of touches at the near post by Kapadze and Abdukholikov headed the ball over the line.
Lokomotiv, knowing victory would seal their place in the next phase of the competition, pushed for the winner in the second half, with Sanjar Shaakhmedov going closest in the 64th minute when his long-range attempt was pushed over the bar Al Nasr goalkeeper Ahmad Shambih.
Luis Jimenez’s free kick was blocked by the Lokomotiv wall in the dying seconds as neither side could find the killer blow as time ran out, with the teams set to meet again in Tashkent in two weeks’ time with top spot in the group on the line.
“We expected a tough match and it was one of the toughest matches that we had in the competition this year,” said Al Nasr coach Ivan Jovanovic. “In the first half things were equal and we managed to score but we also conceded from a corner.
“We struggled in the first 20 minutes of the second half and they put a lot of pressure on us. However, we managed to improve things afterwards and I personally think that the result was fair for the two teams.”