Saudi Gazette report
ERBIL — In a thrilling AFC Champions League 2023/24 clash on Monday, the Air Force Club of Iraq secured a 2-0 win over the reigning Saudi Pro League champions, Al Ittihad, at the Franso Hariri Stadium in Group C.
After a narrow defeat in their previous encounter two weeks ago, Air Force Club came into the match with added determination. They dominated large portions of the game, restricting Al Ittihad’s touches and possession.
The early moments saw Abdullah Al Mayouf almost conceding to the hosts, but a quick decision from Iraq international Ibrahim Bayesh saw the ball hit the post and go out of play.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side had their first chance in the first half when Jota attempted a curled low shot, forcing keeper Mohamed Hameed to make a flying save.
Just before halftime, Al Mayouf made an exceptional save as Ali Jasim’s volley threatened the net, tipping the ball away with his fingertips.
The breakthrough came with the same trio of players — Bayesh, Abdulraheem, and Jasim. Abdulraheem slotted home a well-timed cutback from Jasim, putting Air Force Club in the lead.
In the 52nd minute, Bayesh once again played a crucial role, crossing to Abdulraheem for an easy tap-in to double the score.
Despite a brilliant buildup in the latter part of the game, Abdulraheem missed a chance for a third goal from close range.
Al Ittihad made late attempts to cut the deficit, but Marwan Al Sahafi’s efforts were denied by Hameed, securing Air Force Club’s victory.
The triumphant team is set to face Sepahan in Iran, while Al Ittihad will seek redemption against AGMK FC in Uzbekistan at the end of the month.