Khoukhi brace gives Sadd crucial victory over Ahli| MENAFN.COM

Wednesday, 29 June 2022 10:35 GMT

Khoukhi brace gives Sadd crucial victory over Ahli

(MENAFN- Gulf Times) Boualem Khoukhi scored a brace to give Al Sadd a narrow 2-1 win at home over Al Ahli of Saudi Arabia in the first leg of their AFC Champions League Round of 16 tie at Jassim bin Hamad Stadium yesterday.
Al Sadd started their first AFC Champions League knockout game since 2015 brightly, and made the breakthrough in just the third minute as Khoukhi got into the box after a fine exchange with Xavi and coolly slotted home with his left foot for the opener.
Despite the early setback, the visitors seemed confident of levelling the scores and came close to scoring twice in the space of one minute. However, Ahmed Suhail and Salem al-Hajri produced two goal-line clearances to deny Abdulfattah Asiri and Hussain al-Mogahwi respectively.
Just as Al Ahli looked to make their mark, Khoukhi struck again in the 28th minute, doubling Al Sadd's lead with a powerful header past Mohammed al-Owais following Baghdad Bounedjah's cross from the right.
Al Sadd thus went into the break with a 2-0 lead but a revitalised Al Ahli side emerged from the tunnel with a desire to change things around. They were rewarded just two minutes into the second half, with Mohannad Aseri heading in Amir Kurdi's cross to reduce the deficit.
That goal set the stage for a feisty second half which saw both sides carve up numerous chances but no goal materialised. Tournament leading scorer Bounedjah was caught offside on multiple occasions while Saad al-Dosari stood his ground at the other end to deny the Al Ahli forwards.
In the dying minutes, Bounedjah missed out a golden opportunity to add a third goal but the Algerian striker shot it straight to Al Ahli goalkeeper. The result leaves the tie nicely poised going into next week's second leg in Jeddah's King Abdullah Sports City.
Al Sadd coach Jesualdo Ferreira was disappointed with the result as he lamented for conceding an away goal. Now Sadd need to score in the return leg or play out a goalless draw for a chance to progress into the quarter-finals. Ferreira's players created a fistful of chances during the game only to lack a cutting edge and there was the sense that they were running out of ideas.
'It was not a satisfactory result for us. It was important not to concede a goal but unfortunately we did. I was not happy with our defence today. We could have scored five goals with the number of chances we created. And in the end we were punished for missing those scoring opportunities as they scored, Ferreira said.
'This is not a good result for us. Now they need just a goal in the return leg to win on aggregate. It's a harsh result and I am very sad because of it. Not just the defenders, the whole team did not defend well. Pedro's return for the second leg will be very important for us. I want to be logical, not pessimistic, but match in Jeddah will be a very difficult for us, the Portuguese added.
Ferreira was also unhappy with Al Sadd jam-packed schedule as they have been playing matches every three days. 'It's been a hectic schedule for us as we are playing back to back matches in different tournaments. My players are suffering from fatigue. And it will be much difficult for us in the coming days. We played the final of the Qatar Cup against Al Duhail and then Al Khor in the Amir Cup quarters. Today we played again. On Friday, we have Amir Cup semi-final against Duhail and then we travel to Saudi for the match on Monday, he said.


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