Football

Al Sadd power past Al Wehdat to revive AFC Champions League hopes

Al Sadd SC breathed life into their 2021 AFC Champions League campaign with a 3-1 win over Jordan debutants Al Wehdat at King Fahd International Stadium on Tuesday.

Winless in two prior matches, the Qatari champions clicked into gear with a blistering three-goal burst in the opening 26 minutes, with Baghdad Bounedjah, Boualem Khoukhi and Hassan Al Haydos all getting on the scoresheet before an Ahmad Sameer penalty sparked an Al Wehdat revival late on.

The result lifts Xavi’s Al Sadd to an improved four points from three matches – one behind group leaders Foolad Khouzestan and Al Nassr – while Al Wehdat remain bottom of Group D with one point at the half-way point of their maiden group stage campaign.

Having been competitive in their first two matches without a win or a goal to show for it, the Jordanians were this time blown away by an Al Sadd starting line-up featuring five AFC Asian Cup winners and four top class foreign players.

It was three of the foreign contingent who combined for the first goal, scored within two minutes, with the prolific Bounedjah poking Santi Cazorla’s corner kick over the line from a few yards after a flick on from Guilherme, and it proved to be a mere warning for what was to come.

The Qatari side doubled their lead seven minutes later, with another in-swinging corner from Cazorla thundered in by Khouki’s header, which left Al Wehdat goalkeeper Ahmad Nawwas rooted to the spot.

The woodwork prevented Cazorla from making it 3-0 in the 12th minute, but Al Sadd’s relentless pressure meant the third goal arrived just before the half-hour mark, with Al Haydos racing to get onto a deflected Mohammed Waad strike before slamming the ball beyond Nawwas at his near post.

There looked to be more pain ahead for Abdullah Abu Zema when Nawwas denied Cazorlaearly in the second half, but there were signs of life when Abdou N’Diaye forced Al Sadd goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham into a brilliant reflex save after the Jordanians won the ball high up the pitch on the hour mark.

It was N’Diaye who proved crucial to Al Wehdat’s goal two minutes, winning a penalty when he was clumsily fouled by Tarek Salman, with Ahmad Sameer dispatching the penalty kick to become the club’s first ever AFC Champions League goal scorer in the 63rd minute.

Al Wehdat were denied a second when Barsham saved a low effort from Sameer, keeping Al Sadd’s two-goal buffer intact, and setting the scene for a Matchday Four rematch between the two clubs on Friday.

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