AFC Cup 2017: Al Wahda take big step towards grand final; FC Istiklol through to Inter-Zonal final

Al Wahda
Syria's Al Wahda took a big step towards reaching the grand final on Tuesday while FC Istiklol have reached the Inter-Zonal final...

The AFC Cup is reaching its business end and we are one step closer to determining the finalists after Al Wahda won the first leg of the Wes Zone final. At the other end of the spectrum, FC Istiklol will await the winner of the game between Bengaluru FC and 4.25 SC in the Inter-Zonal final. Let's take a sneak peek into what happened in the tournament on Tuesday: 

West Zone final 1st leg:

AL WAHDA 2-1 AIR FORCE CLUB [Bouta 3' Al Masri 64' - Ahmad 90']

Al Wahda won the first leg of the West Zone final against defending champions Air Force Club of Iraq on Tuesday to take a step closer to the AFC Cup Grand Final. But Air Force Club managed to get a crucial away goal, which means they still have some work to do in the second leg. 

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The Syrian side got off to a racing start, scoring the opening goal in the third minute through Anas Bouta. But the genius behind the move was Osama Omari who weaved his way past the Air Force Club defence before laying off the ball for Bouta to turn into the net. 

Air Force Club dominated the ball after the initial setback but were unable to fashion an equaliser. Just past the hour mark, Al Wahda went two goals clear, thanks to Hadi Al Masri, much to the delight of the Syrians. 

However, Air Force Club managed to get a goal back in the fag end of the game to make the second leg intriguing. Last year's topscorer Hammadi Ahmed capitalised on a defensive blunder to score a crucial away goal for his team. 

Inter-Zonal semifinal 2nd leg:

CERES NEGROS 1-1 FC ISTIKLOL [Herrera 34' - Barkov 45+2']

Istiklol rejoice

Tajikistan's FC Istiklol have sealed their spot in the Inter-Zonal semifinal after a 1-1 second leg result in Philippines against Ceres Negros FC in the AFC Cup. After a resounding 4-0 win in the first leg, the result of the tie was never in doubt but Istiklol had to see off the second leg without unpleasant incidents and that is exactly what they did. 

Ceres, who had an almost insurmountable mountain ahead of them, had a glimmer of hope in the 34th minute when they opened the scoring through Spanish defender Manuel Herrera who headed in Manuel Ott's corner. 

But those hopes extinguished for good at the end of the first half when Dmitry Barkov equalised for Istiklol with a superb volley. However, the night ended on a bitter note for Istiklol who lost Artem Baranovskyi after the defender was shown a straight red card which will mean he will miss the Inter-Zonal final against either Bengaluru FC or 4.25 SC.