A late goal by Brazilian Ailton Almeida helped Saudi giants Al Hilal to a 1-1 draw against the UAE's Al Ahli in their AFC Champions League semi-final first leg clash in Riyadh.
Al Ahli appeared to be heading for a key away victory at the King Fahd International Stadium in the Saudi capital when Ailton struck with a powerful header in the 83rd minute to give the two-time champions a share of the points in front of a packed crowd.
After a tight first half that saw very few chances created, Al Ahli went ahead in the 57th minute with a header from former Benfica striker Lima who nodded in an Everton Ribeiro free-kick from just outside the penalty area.
Al Hilal, however, were left ruing a missed penalty, Carlos Eduardo hitting the post ten minutes later. Al Ahli suffered an injury blow early in the match when centre half Waled Abbas hurt his shoulder and was replaced by Abdelaziz Saqour in the 17th minute.
Minutes later Ailton's attempt from outside the area just went wide while Salmin Khamis brought off a fine clearance after the ball had slipped through goalkeeper Ahmed Mahamoud's hands following a shot by Mohamed al-Burayk.
The game picked up pace in the second session but both teams failed to convert their chances. Al Hilal had a golden opportunity ten minutes after resumption, but Salem al-Dawsari failed to capitalise on it by shooting over the bar.
It was a costly miss as Al Ahli went ahead just a minute later, Everton Ribeiro's fine free-kick finding Lima, whose header gave goalkeeper Khalid Sharahili no chance.
Ten minutes later Al Hilal found themselves with a penalty kick when Khamis picked up the ball thinking it had gone out of play. Carlos Eduardo's effort from the spot beat the goalkeeper, but clipped the post ensuring no harm was done.
With the minutes ticking by, Eduardo made amends for his penalty miss with a great corner that Ailton headed past Mahmoud to set up a potentially thrilling second leg clash in Dubai on 20 October.