Nasr’s fate hangs by a thread

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Nasr’s fate hangs by a thread
Ahmed of Al Nasr and Temurkhuja of Lokomotiv clash for the ball during the AFC Champions League match in Dubai on Wednesday.

Dubai - Blue Wave held by Uzbekistan's Lokomotiv in AFC Champions League

By James Jose

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Published: Wed 20 Apr 2016, 9:23 PM

Last updated: Wed 20 Apr 2016, 11:27 PM

Al Nasr’s progression to the next round of the AFC Champions League hangs in the balance after the Bur Dubai club were held to a 1-1 draw by Uzbekistan’s Lokomotiv.
Former Al Ain man Jires Kembo-Ekoko conjured a neat piece of individual brilliance to give Al Nasr the lead just past the half hour but Temurkhuja Abdukholikov cancelled that out with a header from a set piece, with two minutes left in the first half.
The stalemate at the Al Maktoum Stadium on Wednesday night left Al Nasr second in Group A with eight points, a point behind leaders Lokomotiv.
Ivan Jovanovic’s men are next on the road to Tashkent for the return leg against Lokomotiv on May 4.
It was a bit of a subdued opening to the game with both having a fair share of forays but none too threatening to write home about.
Jonathan Pitroipa made a couple of sorties from the right but was kept in check by the Lokomotiv defence.
Later, on 20 minutes, Al Nasr goalkeeper Ahmad Shambih, who reeled off a number of saves on the night, denied Temurkhuja Abdukholikov after Salim Mustafaev had crossed from the right.
But the game burst to life just after the half hour with a stellar piece of brilliance from Jires Kembo-Ekoko.
The Congolese striker embarked on a fine solo from the left and hoodwinked Lokomotiv captain Timur Kapadze before sending a peach of an effort from 20 yards out, into the far corner of the net.
It was such a brilliant shot that Lokomotiv goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov was left stranded in the middle and there was nothing he could do.
Lokomotiv threatened almost immediately at the other end but Shambih did well to block Server Djeparov’s grounder.
But a lapse in concentration saw Lokomotiv get the equaliser with two minutes left in the half.
Djeparov fired in a fine corner and Kapadze headed it goal wards after which Abdukholikov headed it in just in front of the goal mouth.
Ekoko tested the Lokomotiv goal with a curling free kick after Nilmar was brought down by substitute Sergey Prokhorov. But Nesterov managed to keep it out.
Just earlier, Ahmed Ibrahim had pulled off a goal line save off a Lokomotiv corner.
Shambih was called into action on 62 minutes and the Emirati goalkeeper tipped Sanjar Shaakhmedov’s swerving effort over the cross bar.
With a little over 20 minutes left, Jovanovic brought in reinforcements with Salem saleh replacing the off colour Nilmar and defender Esam Dhahi for midfielder Tariq Ahmed.
Al Nasr should have taken the lead with 12 minutes left on the clock after Luis Antonio Jimenez sent a neat little chip to Pitroipa, who had charged in from the right. But the former Al Jazira man made a mess of it by losing control of the ball.

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