Sharjah produced a strong second half rally to overcome Istiklol of Tajikistan 2-1 in the Asian Champions League Group A at the King Fahd International stadium in Riyadh on Monday.
Manuchehr Dzhalilov had given Istiklol the first half lead but Sharjah bounced back through goals from Brazilians Caio Lucas and Bernard to register their first points in the competition.
Sharjah and Istiklol came into the tie aiming to respond to opening night defeats against Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal and Al Rayyan of Qatar respectively, and it was the UAE club who threatened the most at the start of the match.
Cosmin Olaroiu’s side looked dangerous in attack with Caio doing well to get into a goal scoring position in the 13th minute after dribbling into the area but his effort was blocked by the Istiklol defenders.
Caio was in action again three minutes later after Abdulla Kazim’s set-up but Istiklol packed the six-yard-box with defenders, giving the Brazilian no space to operate.
Istiklol then took the lead when Shervoni Mabatshoev started a move at the edge of the box, laying off for Eric Bocoum to supply forward Manuchekhr Dzhalilov for a simple tap-in.
Sharjah started the second half more aggressively with Caio blasting his 50th minute effort high above the bar following Hussain Saleh’s cutback from Salem Sultan’s long ball.
The Brazilian, however, made amends four minutes later when he struck the ball from the edge of the box, sending his effort past Istiklol goalkeeper Yatimov for the equaliser.
A lapse in concentration in the 57th minute saw Istiklol concede again, Bernard finishing from close range following a scramble inside the penalty area.
Sharjah were reduced to 10 men in the 85th minute after Khaled Al Dhanhani picked up his second yellow card but Olaroiu’s side kept a battling Istkilol at bay to seal the win.
Sharjah will face Al Rayyan while Istiklol meet defending champions Al Hilal in the final round of group games on Friday.
Jazira defeated by Shabab
Al Jazira, meanwhile, went down 3-0 to Saudi side Al Shabab in Group C on the same night.
Carlos Junior was on target in the sixth minute, before Turki Al Ammar doubled their lead heading into halftime. The Brazilian then sealed the game with his second on 78 minutes to hand Jazira their second defeat in as many games.
Mumbai City secured their first ever victory in the competition with a 2-1 win over Air Force Club of Iraq.
Hammadi Ahmad put the Iraqi side in front after a scoreless first half before Diego Maurício and Rahul Bheke struck late to give Mumbai City a 2-1 triumph in Group B.