AFC Cup holders Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya came from behind to salvage a point against Al-Shurta in the Baghdad Clásico played in front of almost 30,000 spectators at the Al-Shaab.
Al-Shurta opened the scoring through Senegalese Alassane Diallo after 13 minutes before Al-Jawiya’s Emad Muhsin equalised in first half stoppage time.
Alaa Abdul-Zahra of Al-Shurta had forced Air Force defender Saad Natiq into making an error and the young striker cut back to Diallo who rifled the ball low to keeper Mohammed Kasid’s left to score.
The Police Club made an early change when striker Mohanad Ali who had begun brightly was stretchered off after 35 minutes, midfielder Mahdi Kamil came on in his place.
Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya got back on equal terms in first half stoppage time when Ali Husni opened up the opposition’s defence. The lively winger delightfully threading the ball through the opposition defence with the outside of his right foot to find Emad Muhsin in the penalty area. The elusive striker beat a defender before lofting the ball over the onrushing keeper to make it 1-1.
A buoyed Al-Jawiya side came out in the second half with more intent, as captain Hamadi Ahmed fired wide eight minutes in. Al-Shurta also came close, however neither side was able to carve out an opening.
The second half witnessed a moment of controversy as tempers flared when Al-Shurta appealed for a penalty. Their players remonstrated with the match official claiming Al-Jawiya’s Saad Natiq had handled in the box, however referee Wathiq Mohammed waved away protests adjudging the ball to have touched his chest.
Both second-placed Al-Jawiya and Al-Shurta in fourth had the opportunity to go top, if either side could claim victory. The draw means Al-Zawraa with nine games played remain top by a point, but both Al-Jawiya and Al-Shurta have a game in hand on last season’s champions.
Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya 1-1 Al-Shurta
Emad Muhsin 45 (+1); Alassane Diallo 13
Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya: 12 Mohammed Kasid; 2 Ali Bahjat, 4 Saad Natiq, 5 Ahmed Abdul-Ridha, 6 Samih Saeed, 25 Mohammed Ali Aboud (16 Karrar Nabil 80’), 8 Ibrahim Bayish (7 Karrar Ali 89′), 15 Ali Husni, 18 Zaher Medani, 9 Emad Muhsin (29 Amjad Radhi 76’), 10 Hamadi Ahmed [c].
Coach: Basim Qasim
Al-Shurta: 20 Mohammed Hamed; 2 Karrar Mohammed, 24 Faisal Jassim, 13 Amjad Walid (25 Saad Abdul-Amir 79’), 23 Walid Salim [c] (17 Alaa Mahawi 74’), 19 Amjad Atwan, 12 Ammar Abdul-Hussein, 6 Maarouf Youssef, 10 Alaa Abdul-Zahra, 33 Alassane Diallo, 18 Mohanad Ali (9 Mahdi Kamil 35’).
Coach: Nebojša Jovović (Montenegro)
Referee: Wathiq Mohammed
Cautions: Ammar Abdul-Hussein 53′, Alaa Mahawi 88′.