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Al Shabab step closer to AFC semis

The 2012 Saudi champions are in good position for semi-finals after 1-1 away draw to Kashiwa Reysol in Champions League.

Last Modified: 21 Aug 2013 13:41
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Al Shabab midfielder Menegazzo (R) connected with a corner to equalise against Kashiwa in first leg [AFP]

Saudi Arabia's Al Shabab held Kashiwa Reysol to a 1-1 away draw on Wednesday to raise their hopes of reaching the AFC Champions League semi-finals for the first time.

A super strike from Brazilian midfielder Fernando Menegazzo cancelled out Masato Kudo's opener in the quarter-final first leg, with the return fixture in Riyadh to be played on September 18.

Kashiwa were quickest out of the blocks and Brazilian forward Cleo claimed for handball and a penalty when a dangerous corner came off an Al Shabab defender and flashed wide.

And the early pressure told when Leandro Domingues' indirect free-kick rebounded to striker Masato Kudo, who planted it side-footed past the goalkeeper from just inside the box.

Al Shabab, the 2012 Saudi champions, found their feet and Brazilian midfielder Rafinha made a strong run into the box but couldn't pick out a team-mate.

At the other end, another Brazilian, Jorge Wagner, thought he had claimed a precious second goal for Kashiwa but his sharp finish was ruled out for offside.

Boos rang out around Kashiwa Stadium as the visiting side began to enjoy the lion's share of possession, and they equalised in fine style a minute before half-time.

A corner from the right was knocked down and midfielder Menegazzo swept in a glorious shot left-footed off the underside of the bar.

Ten minutes after the break, Naif Hazazi spurned a chance to give Al Shabab the lead when Rafinha cued him up for a volley which he disappointingly sliced wide.

Kashiwa struggled to make an impression after a raft of changes in the second half, and the increasingly impressive Al Shabab nearly snatched victory in the dying minutes.

Torres thundered a strike off the bar in the 87th minute and just seconds later, Al Shabab sliced open the Kashiwa defence with a sumptuous move before the final pass rolled harmlessly wide.

However, Kashiwa finally came alive and almost poached a win when Kudo's first-time effort was parried at point-blank range by Al Shabab 'keeper Waleed Abdullah in the 90th minute.

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Source:
AFP
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