Brilliant Omar fires Al Ain into last eight
Asian player of the year Omar Abdulrahman scored a brilliant double as Al Ain thrashed Esteghlal 6-1 on Monday to storm into the AFC Champions League quarter-finals.
The brace by “Amoory” — matched by two sublime strikes from Brazil’s Caio — overturned last week’s 1-0 defeat and powered last year’s runners-up to a 6-2 aggregate victory.
Elsewhere, in an all-Al Ahli derby, Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli beat their UAE namesakes 3-1 for a 4-2 aggregate win in Dubai.
Al Ain needed goals against Iran’s Esteghlal and Caio duly obliged in the 27th and 33rd minutes when he smashed home a volley and then coolly chipped the goalkeeper for his second.
Omar’s first goal, shortly after half-time, was all endeavour and technique as he chased a loose ball beyond the far post and, meeting it at full stretch, turned it in from a tight angle.
Lee Myeong Ju belted Al Ain’s fourth before Omar charged at a backtracking defence and placed his shot past beseiged Esteghlal goalkeeper Mehdi Rahmati.
Saudi striker Nasser Al Shamrani got Al Ain’s sixth on the break before Esteghlal bagged a late consolation when Kevah Rezaei’s free kick trickled into the goal.
In Dubai, an Al Ahli side was always going to be the winner — and loser — in an unusual clash between two teams with the same name.
Saudi’s Al Ahli also needed to score after last week’s 1-1 draw at home, and they led after 18 minutes through Taiseer Al Jassam’s sharp back-post finish from a corner.
Hussain Al Mogahwi hammered the visitors’ second into the top corner six minutes later, and the hosts’ hopes further receded when top-scorer Makhete Diop was sent off near the hourmark.
Saad Abdulameer grabbed the Saudi side’s third from the spot with 18 minutes left, meaning Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan’s injury-time penalty was academic.