Stoch fires Al Ain to top in AFC Champions League

The Boss edge past Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor in AFC Champions League

By James Jose - Senior Reporter

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Fri 20 Mar 2015, 12:49 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 10:56 PM

Abu Dhabi — Miroslav Stoch was top notch on the night, dictating the game and scoring the match-winner as 10-man Al Ain breathed life into their campaign with a solitary goal win against Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor and go top of the leaderboard in the AFC Champions League.

Al Ain Miroslav Stoch (right) vies with Al Hilal player Yasser Al Shahrani during their earlier AFC Champions League semifinal. — AFP file 

The Slovakian international stepped up in the absence of Asamoah Gyan and Omar Abdulrahman and fired a scorcher just after the clock had struck the hour. But he was not there in the end to see ‘The Boss’ get their first win after being sent off on 75 minutes.

The Al Ain defence then stood firm against a barrage from Pakhtakor for 15 minutes of regulation time and six minutes of stoppage time to return with full points. It was a welcome relief for coach Zlatko Dalic after twin draws against Al Shabab and debutants Naft Tehran in their first two Group B fixtures.

Al Ain knocked off Pakhtakor at the top of the group with five points from three games. Pakhtakor are a point behind with four.

Dalic was without Gyan and Omar, who didn’t make the trip because of injuries but Stocha and Jires Kembo-Ekoko stepped up and more than made up for it. The latter could have handed Al Ain a much bigger win had he converted three clear chances.

In fact, Al Ain could have gone ahead early in the first half after Ekoko pounced on a defensive lapse and only had goalkeeper Alexander Lobanov to beat. But he contrived to rifle it over the cross bar.

Later, as the game approached the half-hour, Ekoko volleyed it wide of the post after he had latched onto a weak clearance.

Ekoko was to miss again five minutes after the restart after he failed to convert a long cross from Lee Myung Joo.

On 55 minutes, Mohammed Abdulrahman missed the target while on the run. But Stoch, who was impressive, putting a lot of moves in motion, latched onto an inch perfect cross from Mohammed Abdulrahman and sent the scorcher home, on 61 minutes.

Four minutes later, Ahmed Barman received a yellow card, his second in the group stage. He will have to watch from the sidelines when Al Ain host Pakhtakor in the return leg at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on April 7.

More news from