Al Jazira advance in ACL
Al Sadd's Xavi Hernandez (centre) attempts to dribble between UAE's Al Jazira players Ali Mabkout and Yaqoub Al Hosani (right) during thier AFC Champions League third round qualifying match.
Dubai - Al Jazira won 5-1 against Dibba Al Fujairah in the UAE league last week which encouraged the players go into the match in good spirits.
Al Jazira advanced to the group stage of the 2016 AFC Champions League following their dramatic win over Al Jazira on penalties shoot-out at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium on Tuesday. The two sides played to a 2-2 draw in the regular and extra-time.
Ironically, Hamza Sanhaji who has scored a double for Al Sadd, was among those who have missed from the spot. Former Spain and Barcelona international Xavi Hernandez was the first Al Sadd player to miss from the spot kick.
Al Jazira's striker Ali Mabkhout said: "It was a tough game against a very difficult side. We were lucky to work our way through and hopefully it will give us a big boost to excel in the competition."
Both Al Sadd who have won the trophy in 2011, and Al Jazira are struggling at home to recapture their respective forms, though Al Jazira have shown signs of improvement in their recent encounters. And for this reason, qualification for the group stage of the continent's club premier championship is very crucial to restore hope in concluding the season with a title.
Al Jazira won 5-1 against Dibba Al Fujairah in the UAE league last week which encouraged the players go into the match in good spirits. But, although favourites Al Jazira played at home and in front of their fans, it was the Qataris who have made their presence felt in the early stages of the encounter.
Hamza Sanhaji drew first blood for the Qatari side in the 22nd minute of the first half. However, the home team bounced back and Kenwyne Jones cancelled Al Sadd's advantage few seconds before the breather. Towards the 65th minute, the AFC Asian Cup's top scorer Ali Mabkhout gave Al Jazira the lead, but the home team fans were forced to halt their celebrations with only two minutes remaining from the regular time. Sanhaji came again with a strong run to level the result and the two sides had to go to extra-time.
Al Sadd’s Xavi Hernandez (centre) attempts to dribble between UAE’s Al Jazira players Ali Mabkout and Yaqoub Al Hosani (right) during thier AFC Champions League third round qualifying match. — AFP