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AFC Cup MD3: Arbil 1-2 Riffa     19/03/2014 11:29:12 PM


Doha: Bahraini side Riffa leapfrogged Arbil into top spot in Group D of the AFC Cup after they came from behind to beat the 10-man Iraqi side 2-1 on Wednesday.
Arbil took the lead at the Grand Hamad Stadium with a sensational strike by Halkor Mulla Mohammad in the 35th minute but Mohamed Duaij levelled soon afterwards after beating the Arbil offside trap.
The Iraqi side were then reduced to 10 men when Halkor received his marching order just before the break for a bad tackle and Riffa took full advantage of their numerical superiority, grabbing the winner with an own goal by Burhan Sahyouni with 21 minutes left.
“We achieved an important result against a strong team,” said a delighted Riffa coach Florin Motroc. “Our players followed our instructions and they played with great concentration while they showed good consistency throughout the match.
“Our strategy was to put a lot of pressure on the goal of our opponents who have good players. The win is really important for us and hopefully we can continue with a good performance in our next match.”
Arbil entered the game with a perfect record and a two-point advantage over Riffa in the group and they had the better of the chances before taking the lead in the 35th minute after a moment of magic by Halkor.
He received a long pass from his brother Hawar Mulla Mohammad on the right of the Riffa Box and unleashed a powerful right-footed volley that flew into the far corner of the net.
But the Bahrainis got back on level terms just five minutes later after a defensive breakdown by the home side. A corner from the left was only half-cleared by the Arbil defence and as they attempted to move up, Mohamed Duaij beat the the offside trap and took the ball past stranded Arbil goalkeeper Jalal Hassan before tucking it into the unguarded net.
Things would get worse for the Iraqi side just before half-time when Halkor launched himself into a reckless tackle from behind on Mladen Jovancic and was shown a red card.
Despite being a man down, Arbil started well after the break but Riffa would eventually make their numerical superiority count as they created a number of scoring chances before taking the lead in the 69th minute.
Second half substitute Aiman Al-Hagri attempted to pick out Saad Al Amer with a cross from the right flnak but the ball was met instead by the head of Arbil defender Sahyouni who inadvertently sent the ball into his own net.
“We didn’t have a good performance in the match as the players lacked the necessary concentration and they made many mistakes,” lamented Arbil coach Ayob Odisho. “That affected us and we eventually lost the match after conceding two goals from defensive mistakes.
“Despite the defeat, we will try our best to learn lessons from the match and fix our mistakes. We will be playing against the same side in the next round and we should have a better performance in order to get back on track.”