14 Feb 2018 - 1:13
Al Sadd begin campaign with away win against Al Wasl; Al Rayyan held
Dubai/Doha: Striker Baghdad Bounedjah scored a brace after coming off the bench to help his Al Sadd side come from behind to earn a 2-1 away win against Al Wasl in the AFC Champions League Group C while Al Rayyan, playing at home, were held 2-2 draw by Esteghlal at Jassim bin Hamad Stadium yesterday.
QNB Stars League side Al Sadd were in arrears in the first half but bounced back to get full points and start their campaign on a winning note.
After a slow start to the match, the hosts took the lead through Fabio de Lima in the 26th minute. The Brazilian capitalised on a loss of possession by defender Abdelkarim Hassan to cut inside from the right and send a curling shot that went in past goalkeeper Saad Al Dosari.
In the second half, Al Sadd coach Jesualdo Ferreira sent on Bounedjah to add impetus to his side’s offensive efforts and the move paid off in style.
After first coming close with an overhead kick, the Algerian equalised for the Qatari side with 11 minutes left on the clock, converting Xavi’s sublime pass with a shot on the turn.
In the final minute of the game, Bounedjah was on target again, after he got on the end of a cross by substitute Akram Afif which the Al Wasl defence failed deal with.
The striker finished on the half-volley to seal an important victory for the 2011 AFC Champions League winners.
Al Sadd welcome Persepolis to Doha next week while Al Wasl travel to Qarshi in Uzbekistan to face Nasaf.
In Doha, Al Rayyan captain Rodrigo Tabata had a mixed evening as his side played out an entertaining 2-2 draw against Esteghlal.
Two-time AFC Player of the Year Server Djeparov found space inside Al Rayyan’s box and sent a pacey cross that was deflected off Tabata and into his own net to hand Esteghlal the lead inside six minutes.
Tabata shortly made amends, sending a pinpoint delivery from a free-kick to find Abderrazzak Hamed-Allah. The Moroccan directed his header accurately to beat goalkeeper Seyed Hosseini and bring Al Rayyan level in the 18th minute.
The duo combined again 10 minutes later to turn the tie around. This time Hamed-Allah was the creator as he cut inside from the left flank and laid off a pass for Tabata who applied a first-time finish from inside the box, leaving Hosseini helpless.
Al Rayyan were reduced to 10 men for the final 10 minutes after Tabata was dismissed for a late challenge on Pejman Montazeri.
Esteghlal took advantage of their numerical superiority to equalise two minutes from time as Ali Ghorbani headed home Omid Ebrahimi’s cross from the right wing. Next, Esteghlal face Saudi champions Al Hilal while Al Rayyan travel to the UAE to play Al Ain.