A fiercely contested tactical battle at Education City Stadium saw Al Duhail emerge 2-1 winners over Sharjah FC on Matchday Three of the 2020 AFC Champions League Group C on Tuesday.
Sharjah went into the game in pursuit of their first win in the AFC Champions League since 2004, having collected one point from their first two games.
Al Duhail, meanwhile, were looking to make amends having lost to Al Taawoun on Matchday Two to freeze at three points.
Igor Coronado had the first chance of the match for Sharjah after eight minutes, but his free-kick from all of 30 yards out sailed over the crossbar.
Al Duhail’s best chance of the opening period came just before the half-hour mark, when Ahmed Yasser rose highest to meet a cross from a free-kick. Al Hosani did enough to initially parry it then followed through with a sweeper-style clearance.
Five minutes before the end of the first half, Sharjah were caught napping after a misplaced pass from Mohammed Abdulbaset allowed Luiz Junior to collect the ball deep into his own half and supply an impeccable pass to Almoez Ali who expertly applied his finish into the bottom corner from the edge of the box to put Al Duhail in the lead.
Al Duhail picked up from where they left off after the restart and within six minutes, Abdullah Al Ahrak had won a free-kick just outside the Sharjah penalty box and new signing Ramin Rezaeian curled it perfectly into the top corner to double the Qataris’ lead.
Five minutes later, Coronado used his trickery to dribble his way past two Al Duhail players before being brought down by Ali inside the box, prompting the referee to point to the spot. The former Palermo playmaker stepped up and coolly converted in his trademark style to half the deficit.
Despite relative dominance for Sharjah and coach Abdulaziz Al Anbari throwing in a trio of attacking players in Khalid Bawazir, Saif Rashid and Salem Saleh, Al Duhail stood tall to see off the match and move up to six points, five points ahead of their opponents.
Sharjah’s chances of progress to the next round are now hanging on their ability to collect the three points in the reverse fixture on Friday.