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Thursday, 06 May 2021 07:10 GMT

Qatar- ACL: Al Duhail beat Al Shorta in opener


(MENAFN - The Peninsula) AFC Al Duhail made a successful start to their 2021 AFC Champions League (ACL) group stage campaign, easing to a 2-0 win over Al Shorta of Iraq at King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah yesterday.

In control for much of the match, the Qatari club went ahead through a Hassam Kadhim own goal nine minutes before half-time before a picturesque Edmilson Junior volley made the points all but safe in the 53rd minute.

The result installs Al Duhail as the early leader in Group C, with only the group winners and three best runners-up to advance to the knockout stage from the West Zone. Al Duhail began in the ascendancy, although it didn't immediately translate into goalmouth action in a cagey opening period.

It took until the 17th minute for the game's first shot to materialise; a scuffed effort from Al Duhail's Michael Olunga, but they went much closer to breaking the deadlock through Ali Karimi five minutes later, with the Iranian's instinctive header fizzing wide from close range after he latched on Ismail Mohammad's cross.

While those chances didn't bear fruit, they did usher in a period of greater control for Al Duhail, whose pressure eventually produced the opening goal in the 36th minute, when Olunga and Karimi played a neat one-two, with Olunga's shot ending up in the back of the net via the foot of Kadhim, who was credited with an own goal.

Unable to create a single chance of their own in the opening 45 minutes, Al Shorta now had to chase the game, and that task became considerably more difficult when Sabri Lamouchi's men went further ahead eight minutes into the second half.

There were similarities with the first goal, with Al Duhail's passing and movement stretching the Al Shorta defence, and Almoez Ali having a shot blocked before Edmllson Junior showed excellent technique to lash home a volley from just short of 15 yards.

Aleksandar Ilic's side began to look more directly for a way back into the match, and they nearly found a breakthrough of their own through Ali Husni, only for the substitute's rasping 20-yard effort to rattle the woodwork in the 73rd minute.

That proved to be Al Shorta's clearest chance at reducing the deficit, with their attention now turning to Sunday's clash with Esteghlal FC, while Al Duhail will face group hosts Al Ahli Saudi FC in their second match.

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