Saudi club Al Ahli beat Iraq’s Al Shorta with a late goal from German international Marko Marin to become the first team into the knockout stages of Asian Champions League as the continental club competition returned in Doha on Monday.

Seven months after grinding to a halt because of the COVID-19 pandemic, action in Asia’s premier club competition got back underway with three matches in the West Asian hub in Qatar.

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The withdrawal of Al Wahda after the Emirati side failed to arrive in the Qatari capital left Group A with only three teams and Al Ahli, runner up in 2012, took full advantage to progress to the last 16.

Al Shorta’s resumption hit a road bump just before halftime at an empty Khalifa International Stadium when defender Ali Mhawi was sent off for a second bookable offence.

The Iraqis still had the better of the second half and…

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