The Group C leader of Saudi Arabia had won its opening two matches, but was twice pegged back by the visitor from United Arab Emirates as it was forced to settle for a point.
Aqeel Al-Sahbi put Al Ahli in front by finding the top corner with an outrageous flick after 26 minutes, but the visitor was level within 105 seconds when Nassir Al Shamrani struck from a tight angle, Omar Abdulrahman the creator.
Al Ahli moved back into the lead through Ioannis Fetfatzidis five minutes into the second half, but again the lead did not last long, Al-Sahbi making it a goal at each end as he headed past his own goalkeeper Yasser Al-Mosailem.
After Al-Sabhi went from hero to zero, Al Ahli remains two points clear of Al Ain at the top of the pool, with the two sides set to do battle in a mouth-watering return fixture on matchday four next month.
Meanwhile, Zob Ahan of Iran picked up its first victory of the group stage, defeating 10-man Bunyodkor 2-0 in Uzbekistan.
The visitor only had one point from two games coming into the match, but boosted its chances of progression while ensuring Bunyodkor remains rooted to the bottom of Group C.
Home defender Javlon Mirabdullaev's mistake allowed Jerry Bengtson to score after 55 minutes after being set up by Mahdi Mahdipour.
Hopes of a Bunyodkor comeback were dented when Vadim Cemirtan saw red eight minutes later for a foul on Daniel Esmaeilifar.
But it was not until the sixth minute of added time that Zob Ahan sealed victory, substitute Morteza Tabrizi scoring a penalty after Alisher Sanoev had brought down Ehsan Pahlevan in the penalty area.
Esteghlal seized control of Group A with a comfortable 2-0 home victory over Lokomotiv Tashkent.
Iranian outfit Esteghlal took a big step towards the knockout stages with a victory against the side from Uzbekistan brought to them by a goal in each half.
A powerful strike from Farshid Esmaeili put the hosts in front after 37 minutes before Ali Ghorbani's curling finish with six minutes remaining ended Lokomotiv's hopes, Milad Zakipour with the assist.
It was a game to forget for Lokomotiv, which failed to register a shot on target.