Xavi nets first ACL goal as Al Sadd demolish FC Nasaf

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Spanish legend Xavi opened his account in the AFC Champions League on Tuesday evening as his Al Sadd team cruised to a 4-0 Group C win over FC Nasaf.

Having been part of the Al Sadd side that failed to advance from the qualifying playoffs of the ACL in the previous two seasons, 2018 has been the first time Asia’s premier club competition has been properly graced by the former FIFA World Cup winner.

And, at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium on Tuesday, Xavi notched his maiden ACL goal to hand the Qatari giants a third-minute lead.

Having made his way into the box unnoticed, the 38-year-old was picked out by Boulalem Khouki’s right-wing cross and made no mistake in steering a first-time shot past Sanjar Kuvvatov.

Al Sadd then doubled their lead in the 15th minute through a fine individual effort from Abdelkarim Hassan.

Having played a neat one-two with Akram Afif on the halfway line, the left-back proceeded to embark on a 50-yard charge into the box, skipping past Igor Golban before drilling a shot into the back of the net.

The contest was effectively over two minutes before halftime when Jugurtha Hamroun broke free down the right before floating a cross into the box, where Baghdad Bounedjah produced an acrobatic scissor-kick to send the ball into the ground and over Kuvvatov.

But, just for good measure, the hosts added a fourth in the 71st minute when Hassan Al-Haidos, who had replaced Xavi on the hour mark, slipped a pass out right to Hamroun, who advanced into the area before dispatching a clinical finish into the bottom corner.

With the win, Al Sadd are currently top in Group C courtesy of a superior head-to-head record over Persepolis at present, after the Iranians edged Al Wasl 1-0 in the other match on Tuesday.

The only goal at the Zabeel Stadium came eight minutes before the break when a Hossein Mahini freekick was met by Kamal Kamyabinia with a looping header into the far corner.