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Wagner Renan Ribeiro (in white) of Qatar’s Eljaish kicks the ball past Iran’s Tractorsazi’s goalkeeper Mehdi Sabeti to score a goal during their Asian Champions League match at Al Rayyan Stadium in Doha, yesterday. RIGHT: Flavio Lopes Paixo of Iran’s Tractorsazi celebrates after scoring a goal.
DOHA: Qatar’s Eljaish were denied victory when Tractorsazi’s substitute Geilson scored in the dying minutes of the game to earn the Iranian side a share of the points in a thrilling 3-3 draw at the Al Rayyan Stadium in Group A of the Asian Champions League yesterday.
Geilson came off the bench to head home in stoppage time just minutes after Wagner Ribeiro looked to have given hosts Eljaish all three points with a well-taken left-footed effort.
The dramatic finale came in a pulsating game in which Tractorsazi led twice, only for Eljaish to twice peg them back before going in front in the 87th minute through Ribeiro.
Flávio Paixão had given the Iranian side the lead in the 24th minute but Ribeiro’s 35th minute goal ensured the teams went in level at halftime while Mehdi Seyed Salehi put Tractorsazi in front once again only for Adriano to equalise from the penalty spot.
In the other Group A match, Khamis Esmaeel’s spectacular second-half strike earned Al Jazira their first point in the Champions League this season as Saudi Arabia champions Al Shabab were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw.
Elsewhere, Qatar’s Lekhwiya are two points behind leaders Pakhtakor in Group B after the Qatari champions played out a dull goalless draw with Saudi Arabia’s Al Ettifaq.
The visitors showed a bit more attacking verve that their hosts but neither side really offered much of a scoring threat in a disappointing match that was generally bogged down in midfield.
Having lost all of their games on the road in last year’s Champions League, Lekhwiya finally picked up their first away point in the competition. It put them in second place in the group with four points, two behind Pakhtakor, who secured their second straight win thanks to a late strike by Jamshid Iskanderov in a 1-0 win over Al Shabab Al Arabi earlier.
Elsewhere in other Asian Champions League matches yesterday, Jiangsu Sainty played out a tense 0-0 draw with Japan’s Vegalta Sendai under tight security but with no violent flare-ups in Nanjing, scene of a notorious massacre by Japanese troops.
In a highly charged atmosphere, about 6,000 police were at the Olympic Sports Center stadium and occasional taunts were directed at the small group of around 100 Japanese fans, who were gathered together and under heavy guard.
The home crowd broke into an emotive rendition of the Chinese national anthem just before kick-off.
But there was no violence or widespread displays of anger, despite enduring bitterness in China over the 1937-1938 mass killings and rapes.
The result earned debutants Jiangsu, hosting their first Champions League game, their first point of the pan-Asian competition but could not lift them off the foot of Group E. Jiangsu’s fans left disappointed after their team pressed strongly for a late winner, only to be held goalless by the Japanese visitors.
Earlier, Marcello Lippi’s Guangzhou Evergrande gave their title hopes a boost when they fought back to earn a 1-1 away draw with former winners Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.
The Chinese champions fell behind to a first-half strike from Jeonbuk’s Kim Jung-Woo, and the hosts nearly went further ahead when Australian defender Alex Wilkinson and Brazilian midfielder Leonardo both went close with headers.
But Guangzhou, gunning to add Champions League glory to last year’s Chinese double, got back on terms through Brazilian goal-machine Muriqui, who equalised in the 64th minute.
And Guangzhou nearly snatched a famous win when Argentine midfielder Dario Conca saw his header denied by the crossbar. However, the result was enough to keep them top of Group F and unbeaten after two games.
Elsewhere, Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds climbed off the bottom of the same group in fine style with a thumping 4-1 win over Thailand’s Muangthong United, who went down to 10 men after Piyaphon Buntao was sent off after half-an-hour. AGENCIES