Al Sadd hold off Al Ahli to reach ACL quarters

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

A 2-2 draw at Al Ahli on Monday was enough to see Al Sadd advance into the quarter-finals of the AFC Champions League with a 4-3 aggregate triumph.

Having claimed a 2-1 home win in last week’s first leg, it took Qatar’s Al Sadd just two minutes to break the deadlock at the King Abdullah Sports City albeit in slightly questionable circumstances.

The Al Ahli players paused for a moment as they assumed the ball had gone out of play but replays suggest that a determined Baghdad Bounedjah did keep it in as he went on to race into the box, before skipping inside Mohammed Al-Fatil and bending a shot perfectly into the far corner.

Just seven minutes later, however, the Saudi Arabian hosts levelled the scores on the night with Abdulfattah Asiri’s dangerous freekick was diverted by Al Sadd centre-back Ro-Ro into the path of Claudemir, who instinctively nodded home from close range.

Another costly error from the visitors then gave Al Ahli the lead six minutes before the interval as Abdelkarim Hassan’s slip at the back post inadvertently trapped Mansoor Al-Harbi’s cross for Muhannad Asiri, who made no mistake in bundling the ball past Saad Al-Sheeb.

But, eight minutes after the hour mark, Al Sadd were awarded a penalty when Hamid Ismail received possession inside the area from Xavi and looked to have been barged over from behind by Claudemir.

With eight goals already to his name so far in the campaign, Bounedjah stepped up to the spot and – although his initial effort was saved by Al-Owais – the rebound fell kindly back into his path and he made no mistake at the second time of asking, effectively sealing Al Sadd’s progress into the last eight.

AL AHLI: Mohammad Al-Owais, Ageel Balghaith (Abdullah Tarmin 58’), Mohammed Al-Fatil, Motaz Hawsawi, Mansoor Al-Harbi, Claudemir, Mark Milligan (Moamen Zakaria 86’), Saleh Al-Amri, Abdulfattah Asiri, Salman Al-Moasher (Abdulrahman Gharib 75’), Muhannad Asiri.

AL SADD: Saad Al-Sheeb, Hamid Ismail (Ahmed Al-Hamawende 90+4’), Ro-Ro, Morteza Pouraliganji, Abdelkarim Hassan, Salem Al-Hajri, Boualem Khoukhi, Yaseer Abubakar, Xavi (Ahmed Sayyar 90+6’), Akram Afif (Jugurtha Hamroun 65’), Baghdad Bounedjah.