(MENAFN - Gulf Times) Goals from Xavi and Baghdad Bounedjah earned Qatar league champions Al Sadd a hard-fought 2-1 home victory over Uzbekistan's Pakhtakor in the 2019 AFC Champions League Group D yesterday.
The two teams had played out a 2-2 draw a fortnight ago in Tashkent and a single point separated them before kick-off, as Pakhtakor topped the group with five points. But yesterday's win propelled Al Sadd to top of Group D with seven points.
Meanwhile, Pakhtakor freeze at five points, slipping down to third place, with Al Ahli now moving to second with six points and Persepolis rounding the group off with four points at the bottom.
Al Sadd needed just 10 minutes to take the lead through Xavi who, just as in the previous game, curled a free-kick into the top corner of Sanjar Kuvvatov net. Dostonbek Khamdamov had a golden chance to equalise for Pakhtakor when Egor Krimets' cross found him in space inside the Al Sadd box. Khamdamov volleyed from close range, but his ball passed just wide of the upright.
Farrukh Sayfiev crossed for Marat Bikmaev whose header was tipped over the bar by Saad al-Sheeb in the 29th minute. Just a minute later, Pakhtakor got their equaliser. Khamdamov's in-swinging cross was nodded on by Sherzod Azamov into the path of Krimets at the far post and the Pakhtakor captain headed it into the back of the net to draw his side level at the half-hour mark.
Xavi nearly scored his third free-kick in two matches in the 75th minute. The Spanish midfielder rifled from 30 yards out, but Kuvvatov stretched to make the save at the top corner.
Two minutes later, the Uzbek goalkeeper was again well-positioned to deny Xavi. This time the Al Sadd captain received al-Haydos' pass inside the box and fired but Kuvvatov punched the ball away to safety, keeping his side in the game once again.
The winning goal for Al Sadd came three minutes before the end of the 90 through Bounedjah. The 2018 AFC Champions League top goalscorer dispossessed Pakhtakor defender Azamov and exchanged passes with Xavi before slotting home his second in this edition of the competition.