Football

ACL2020 - Group C: Sharjah stun Al Duhail in thriller

A six-goal thriller at Education City Stadium saw Sharjah FC defeat Al Duhail SC 4-2 on Matchday Four of the 2020 AFC Champions League Group C on Friday.

Sharjah came into the match in a desperate need for a win to keep them in the race for a place in the next round, while for Al Duhail, a win could mean going top if Al Taawoun fail to defeat Persepolis in the second Friday fixture.

Al Duhail needed just 12 minutes to open the scoring after Almoez Ali outmuscled his marker, controlling a long ball and setting up Abdullah Al Ahrak who cut inside from the right flank and unleashed a powerful drive from all of 25 yards that nestled into the roof of Adel Al Hosani's net.

Five minutes later, Khalid Bawazir equalised for Sharjah on his first start for the club. The midfielder received a pass on the edge of the opposition penalty box and rifled a thunderous effort that flew straight through the hands of goalkeeper Khalifa Aboubacar as he attempted to catch it, bringing the scores level.

Before the midway point of the opening half, Al Duhail nearly restored their lead when Almoez Ali was set up at the penalty spot by a cross from Dudu, but the Qatari International watched Al Hosani produce a top drawer save to deny him.

Dud had a golden chance to score in the 33rd minute after being sent through on goal by an Ali Afif defence-splitting pass, but the Brazilian could not apply the finish past Al Hosani who did well to catch the effort.

The second half started with Shariah taking the game to their opponents and Bawazir came close to doubling his tally on the night but his 52nd minute drive crept just wide off the post.

The match took an important turn at the hour mark when Moroccan defender Medhi Benatia received a straight red card for an elbow on Sharjah playmaker Igor Coronado.

Straight from the resulting free-kick, Coronado beat the goalkeeper with a curled effort, but the ball bounced off the upright and fell to midfielder Majed Surour whose diving header found the back of the net to establish a Sharjah lead for the first time in the tie.

The action was far from over as Al Duhail restored parity again in the 70th minute. Defender Ahmed Yasser sent a cross-field pass that was nodded on by Mohammad Muntari into the path of Ali and Al Duhail captain caught everyone off guard, controlling and launching a half-volleyed effort from an angle that hit the upright on its way in to make it 2-2.

Five minutes later, Sharjah were awarded a penalty after Mohammed Musa appended Welliton inside the box. Coronado stepped up and just like in the reverse fixture, converted from the spot.

Head coach Abdulaziz Al Anbari's men cemented their victory in added time as former Kashima Antlers and Al Ain winger Caio exchanged passes with Coronado following a corner and drilled an effort from a tight angle that beat the goalkeeper to make it 4-2 at the final whistle.

The result means Shariah get their first win in the AFC Champions League since 2004, moving up to four points, keeping them in the competition, while Al Duhail freeze at six points.

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