Football

ACL2020 - Group D: Bounedjah stars as Al Sadd power past Al Ain

Al Ain FC were eliminated from the 2020 AFC Champions League while Al Sadd SC confirmed qualification to the Round of 16 after the Qatari side cruised through to a 4-0 win in their Group D encounter on Friday.

The two teams shared six goals equally the last time they met three days ago, with Baghdad Bounedjah, Santi Cazorla and 2019 AFC Player of the Year Akram Afif getting on the scoresheet for Al Sadd, while Kodjo Laba and Bauyrzhan Islamkhan got on the scoresheet for Al Ain supplemented by an own goal from Boualem Khoukhi.

This time around, Caio Canedo got a golden chance to draw first blood as he received a beautifully weighted through ball that put him in on goal. He took on Khoukhi, then attempted a shot that Qatar international keeper Saad Al Sheeb got a touch on to remove any danger.

Bounedjah opened the scoring just before the half hour mark after receiving a magnificently weighted chipped pass from Afif that put him clear on goal - the Algerian made no mistake as he placed the shot to Eissa’s left.

The 2011 AFC Champions League winners’ lead was doubled on the stroke of the hour when Bounedjah bombed down the right flank and placed a low through ball to Afif, the latter stretched to meet it and the UAE side were left to pick the ball out of the net.

Laba almost cut the deficit in half when he danced and dribbled his way through a forest of defenders before lashing a ball with his left foot, but Al Sheeb managed the slightest of touches to deflect it onto the crossbar and away from danger.

Bounedjah added his second of the game for the Qatar Stars League side when he latched onto a cross from the exceptionally experienced Cazorla and hammered in his third goal of the campaign 20 minutes from time.

Substitute and recently re-signed Rodrigo Tabata came on as a substitute late in the second half and made his mark on proceedings when he left a defender trailing before placing a shot in the roof of Eissa’s net with his left foot to finish the game off at the Jassim bin Hamad stadium.

The result leaves Al Ain on one point from four games, with no mathematical chance of catching up with second place thus being eliminated early, while Al Sadd have temporarily regained top spot in Group D and have booked their ticket to the next round.

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