Gomis fires Al Hilal past Shabab Al Ahli

Gomis celebrates his match winner (AFP Photo/-)

Doha (AFP) - Bafetimbi Gomis was the hero yet again as reigning champions Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia bounced back from a goal down to edge out the UAE's Shabab Al Ahli in the Asian Champions League on Monday.

Gomis, last year's top scorer with 11 goals as his side won the tournament beating Urawa Red Diamonds in the final, struck once in each half as the Saudi giants clinched a 2-1 victory at the Al Ahli Stadium in Dubai.

It was Al Hilal's second victory in Group B but that didn't stop Uzbekistan's Pakhtakor from going top of the table on goal difference after they thrashed Iran's Shahr Khodro 3-0 in Tashkent.

Shabab Al Ahli lagged behind for most of the match but shocked the Al Hilal defence in the 24th minute as Yousef Jaber came up with a flying header to beat goalkeeper Abdullah al-Maoyouf after Federico Cartabia had unleashed an excellent shot from a corner.

Although rattled, Al Hilal never gave away control and needed only 12 minutes to find the equaliser with Gomis heading in after Sebastian Giovinco had gotten past two defenders and chipped the ball into the penalty area.

Al Hilal created several half chances in the second half but it was Gomis again who delivered, scoring his third goal in two matches.

The Frenchman got rid of his marker and after making some ground half-volleyed Andre Carillo's cross into the roof of the net in the 72nd minute.

Earlier in Tashkent, Igor Sergeev scored a brace as hosts Pakhtakor strolled to victory over Iran's Shahr Khodro with all the three goals coming in the second half.

Shahr Khodro, playing in the tournament for the first time, lost their second consecutive match, after having gone down to Al Hilal last week.

Sergeev opened the account for the hosts in the 56th minute with a clinical finish off after Jololiddin Masharipov had done most of the spadework by getting past two defenders and passed the ball.

Four minutes later Masharipov and Sergeev were in the thick of the action again although Dostonbek Khamdamov also played a big part.

Khamdavov received a defence-splitting pass from Masharipov and although he was comfortably placed to score on his own, he chose to square the ball to Sergeev who made no mistake with his effort.

The top Uzbek side then sealed their three points in the 87th minute, with Sherzod Azamov's strong header off a curling corner kick from Masharipov finding the net.

Meanwhile in Group A, the UAE's Al Wahda scraped past Iraq's Al Shorta 1-0 with Congolese midfielder Paul-Jose M'Poku scoring in the 88th minute.

Al Shorta, who are playing at the continental level for the first time had drawn their first match with Esteghlal.

Al Wahda are now second in the group on goal difference behind Saudi Arabia's Al Ahli after the latter also notched their first win on Monday, beating Iran's Esteghlal 2-1 in Kuwait.

Salman al-Moasher scored in the 17th and 29th minutes for Al Ahli, while Amir Motahari netted the only goal for Esteghlal.