Al Sadd rue Xavi’s mistake

Qatar side Al Sadd were left wondering what might have been after their hopes of qualifying for the AFC Champions League were dashed after former Barcelona captain Xavi Hernandez missed a penalty during Tuesday’s match against Al Jazira.

The two sides had played an entertaining 2-2 draw but after neither team was able to find the decisive goal in extra time, penalties were required to decide which of the sides would progress to the competition proper.

With Al Jazira’s Ali Ahmed Mabkhout scoring the first, Xavi had the opportunity to level matters but proceeded to sky his effort way over the bar.

Although Morteza Pouraliganji and Hamza Senhadji later missed their efforts, it was the Spaniard’s gaffe that set the tone for the capitulation.

“I think we deserved to win this game. I think my players deserved to win this game and go to the Champions League – but congratulations for our opponent,” Al Sadd coach Jesualdo Ferreira told Sport 360.

“They [Jazira] made it work. They pressed in the second half and scored in the last minute of the first half.

“That was important psychologically.”

Al Jazira coach Henk ten Cate was full of praise for his charges but admitted that he was equally impressed with Al Jazira over the 120 minutes.

“I think it’s an advertisement for football in the UAE, this game,” said Ten Cate. “I first want to congratulate my players – they did an amazing job.

“They beat a really good team and achieved something special, I think. The players are very happy in the dressing room; they put lemonade and water on my head.”