(MENAFN- The Peninsula) Fawad Hussain |
Doha, Qatar: Al Sadd were left sweating for a place in the last 16 following a dramatic 2-2 draw at home as Nasaf advanced in the AFC Champions League as Group B winners yesterday.
The result coupled with Sharjah's shock 2-1 loss to Al Faisaly in Amman saw Al Sadd finishing as runners-up in the group, edging Sharjah on better goal difference as both teams finished on eight points.
With Nasaf booking their berth in the Round of 16 with 11 points, Al Sadd are hoping to finish among the three best runners-up sides in West Asia, who will get the tickets for knockout stage alongside the group winners.
For that to happen, the Wolves require both a defeat for Pakhtakor against Al Feiha in Tashkent, and for local opponents Al Duhail to beat Persepolis in Tehran today.
Yesterday, Colombian midfielder Mateus Uribe gave desperate Al Sadd a perfect start, firing a long range strike that slipped off goalkeeper Abduvohid Nematov's hands in the fifth minute at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium.
Late in the second half, Jaba Jighauri brought Nasaf back into the match scoring a brace in a span of seven minutes.
Al Sadd players celebrate after Mateus Uribe scored their opening goal.
He headed the equaliser in 83rd minute off Sherzod Nasrullayev's cross before giving his team a lead in 90th minute, looping the ball over goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham with a first-time finish from the penalty area.
Baghdad Bounedjah gave Al Sadd hope four minutes into injury time scoring from a close range from Boualem Koukhi's assist but Nasaf held their nerves to deny Al Sadd in dying minutes to march into the Round of 16.
Al Sadd coach Wesam Rizik was dejected with the draw but lauded his players for their fighting spirit in the crucial game.
“The draw is more like a loss as we needed three points to enter the last 16 stage,” Rizik said after the match.
“Although we have finished second in the group but the scenario has become very difficult for us now. I am satisfied with the team's performance. We played with a high fighting spirit but wasted many opportunities to score,” he added.
Al Sadd captain Hassan Al Haydos admitted the team missed many scoring chances.
“Unfortunately, we have made things difficult for ourselves. We created many opportunities and could have won the match by availing these chances,” he said.
“We failed to make our home fans happy but we promise them that we will bounce back in what comes next.”
Meanwhile, Al Duhail – eliminated from the competition last week – are looking to finish their campaign on a winning note against Presepolis today.
But the Red Knights are expected to face a stiff challenge from Presepolis, who need a win for a chance to finish among the three best second-placed teams from the West Zone.
Saudi Arabia's Al Nassr have already qualified for last 16 as Group E winners.
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