Al Ain were in a precarious position in Group C when they travelled to Isfahan to take on Zob Ahan on matchday five. But the UAE-based team managed to beat their opponents 3-0 and claim very important three points that saw them ensure qualification to the knockout stages.
While the scoreline made it seem like the game was all one-way and Zob Ahan never posed a challenge to the Emirati side, it could not have been farther from the truth. In fact, Danilo Asprilla, Omar and Mohammad Abdulrahman's goals would have counted for nought if Khalid Eisa had not put in a virtuoso display for Al Ain under the bars.
The Emirati international was seemingly unbeatable under the sticks, pulling off save after save as Zob Ahan tried to press their home advantage count. In fact, Eisa had made a brilliant save right before Danilo Asprilla scored the opening goal for his side. However, his biggest contribution came at the stroke of half-time when the Iranians were awarded a penalty for a handball inside the box.
Eisa was faced with Jerry Bengtson, the Honduran forward who had already scored against Al Ain in the reverse fixture. The striker tried to outfox Eisa with a chip down the middle but the 27-year-old goalkeeper was having none of it. He read it perfectly and made Bengtson look like a novice, while his team breathed a sigh of relief.
Eisa would keep the good work up throughout the game, making an incredible ten saves at a 100% save ratio. While goals from Omar Abdulrahman and Mohammad Abdulrahman swelled the scoreline, it was Eisa who was the man behind it, literally.
He was also very good against aerial balls, claiming two high balls into his box and was quick to clear away danger whenever a threat materialised. One knows it was a special performance when a goalkeeper, who normally are engaged in thankless service, is heralded above goalscorers.
Deservedly, Khalid Eisa is the Toyota AFC Champions League player of the week.