Al Nassr rested Cristiano Ronaldo and started the majority of their foreign contingent on the bench as they concluded the Asian Champions League group campaign with a 1-1 draw away to Istiklol on Tuesday night.
With progress secured with one matchday to spare, Nassr manager Luis Castro chose to leave Ronaldo out of the squad for the match in Dushanbe, while he named among his substitutes the likes of Sadio Mane, Aymeric Laporte, Otavio and Anderson Talisca.
Istiklol took the lead at the Pamir Stadium just after the half hour when midfielder Alisher Dzhalilov fired a fine low shot into the bottom corner, AFP reported.
The hosts, yet to win in this season’s competition, were hoping for three points to lift them off the bottom of the group.
However, Abdulrahman Ghareeb levelled five minutes into the second half, the Nassr winger converting a close-range volley at the second time of asking following an initial stop from Istiklol goalkeeper Rustam Yatimov.
Castro did send for Talisca, Nassr’s second-top scorer this season behind Ronaldo, in the 74th minute, and Ivory Coast midfielder Seko Fofana and Portugal winger Otavio late on but the visitors could not snatch the win.
Nassr ended the group stage unbeaten, with four victories and two draws.