Air Force Club, Pakhtakor remain in search of first AFC Champions League win

Having collected a point from their 3-3 draw with Tractor FC on Matchday One, Pakhtakor were determined to get their first win of the campaign and signaled their intent with a dominant, albeit ultimately scoreless, first half display while Air Force Club sat deep and looked to hit on the counter.

Hojimat Erkinov’s cross that was easily caught by Fahad Taleb was the closest to a real chance either side could muster in the opening quarter of an hour.

Having scored the last of his side’s three goals on Matchday One, Erkinov had a golden opportunity to open Pakhtakor’s account 18 minutes into the game after he was sent through on goal by a sublime lobbed pass from Dragan Ceran, but the number 18 fluffed his lines with only the goalkeeper to beat and sent a tame effort wide.

Ceran came close to scoring himself six minutes before the break. Sardor Rashidov advanced in space down the left and fed the Serbian at the edge of the box, but Ceran’s first-time attempt passed on the wrong side of the upright.

Air Force Club - Pakhtakor - 2021 ACL

The first big chance of the second half fell Air Force Club’s way with Luay Al Ani latching onto a long ball and looking to lob goalkeeper Sanjar Kuvvatov from the edge of the box, but his attempt missed the target.

Youngster Ibrahum Bayesh came close to opening the scoring for the Iraqi side just before the hour-mark after outpacing Pakhtakor centre-back Anzur Ismailov and attempting an effort from a tight angle but could not find the goal.

Air Force Club - Pakhtakor 4- 2021 ACL

Pakhtakor restored the initiative and started creating chances again in the final stretch of the second half with Ceran finding space inside the box on two occasions but his headers on both counts were off target.

With just eight minutes to go, Ceran nearly found the winner as substitute Sharof Mukhitdinov curled a free-kick into the box and the Serbian rose highest to send a looping header towards goal, but a combination of goalkeeper Fahad Taleb and the crossbar sent it behind for a corner.

Air Force Club (IRQ) v Pakhtakor (UZB) - 1

Substitute Shareef Abdulkadhim could have won it late for Air Force Club as he led a swift counterattack in the last minute and with three Iraqi attackers against three Pakhtakor defenders, Abdulkadhim chose to go it alone but sent his shot high and wide as the final whistle announced a stalemate in Sharjah.

With their first point of the campaign in the bag, Air Force Club take on Tractor in their Matchday Three encounter while Pakhtakor’s chase of a first win pits them against group hosts Sharjah FC on Tuesday.

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