Al Ahli striker Lima scored the only goal of the match as the Dubai side recorded a 1-0 away victory over Naft Tehran in their AFC Champions League quarter-final first leg on Wednesday.
Lima, a high-profile recruit from Portuguese giants Benfica, put the Dubai side ahead in the 62nd minute when he threw himself at the ball to score with a fine diving header from close range.
Cosmin Olaroiu’s side are attempting to become the first continental champions from the United Arab Emirates since Al Ain won the title in 2003, and produced an assured performance in the Azadi Stadium.
The first half hour proved to be a cagey affair and the first real effort at goal came from the victors when Ahmed Khalil broke through the Naft defense and set up Ismail Hammadi, who could only fire over the crossbar from just outside the penalty area.
With only moments remaining in the half, Al Ahli carved open the Naft defense thanks to a near-perfect cross from Everton Ribeiro, but Lima managed only to steer his effort wide.
After the interval, Al Ahli continued to dominate proceedings and eventually got the goal their superiority warranted.
From a Riberio corner from the left of the Naft penalty area, the ball was flicked across goal by Walid Abbas and Lima made no mistake with his acrobatic finish.
The hosts tried valiantly to respond to going behind and Carlos Santos nearly equalized two minutes later from a looping header of his own.
A late effort from Abbas Bozar was also off-target and Al Ahli managed to hold onto their one-goal lead going into next month’s second leg.