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Sepahan are second in Group D after drawing with Al Arabi

Al Arabi 2 Sepahan 2
AFC Champions League Group D

AFC - Kuwaiti outfit Al Arabi needed a stupendous Feras Al Khatib 84th minute free-kick to save the team's blushes as Sepahan earned a creditable 2-2 draw in an AFC Champions League Group D match in Kuwait City.

Rasail Khatibi had fired Sepahan ahead in the 16th minute but his team's lead was erased when Malek Qalaf equalised in the 66th minute. Mahmoud Karimi's 79th minute goal put Sepahan back in front but the determined spirit of the Arabi team helped them to level the match with six minutes left on the clock.

Arabi had kicked off their 2004 AFC Champions League season poorly with a 2-0 defeat at Saudi Arabian giants Al Ittihad on Matchday One, but the Kuwaiti team were fired up to redeem themselves as they went in search of their first points against Sepahan.

Their hopes were given a severe knock as the visiting Iranian side came out with an attacking attitude, and Khatabi scored the first goal in the 16th minute after catching the Arabi back-line napping.

Khatabi rounded goalkeeper Falah Dabsha and put the ball into an unguarded goalmouth, much to the frustration of the Arabi goalkeeper who was clearly furious with his defenders.

Such was Arabi's woeful form during the opening 45 minutes that their only first half chance was squandered when Syrian import striker Firas Al Khatib fired a powerful free-kick wide.

The hosts started the second-half with greater urgency as they pressured their opponents upfield and they nearly scored in the 47th minute when Ahmed Moussa struck a free-kick on goal, only for his attempt to be saved by Sepahan's Slovakian keeper Kamil Susko.

Sepahan had their chances to extend their lead but the Persian club wasted a glorious opportunity in the 56th minute when Mohammad Farshbaf's point blank shot was saved by Arabi goalkeeper Falah Dabsha.

The Arabi pressure finally paid dividends when defender Malek Qalaf headed a cross from Saud Al Ajmi past the Sepahan keeper in the 66th minute, as the custodian stood confused by the delivery from the flank.

With everything still to play for, Sepahan fired themselves back into the lead in the 79th minute via Karimi, the striker stylishly going past Arabi defender Ahmed Al Najjar before putting the ball beyond the goalkeeper.

But just as Sepahan had thought they had done enough to win the game, Arabi leveled the score again in the 84th minute, as Khatib unleashed a shot from 35 yards to set up a grandstand finish.

The match ended 2-2 leaving Sepahan second in the group with four points, two behind group leaders Ittihad who have six points. Arabi are in third place with the sole point that they earned on Tuesday.

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