Wahda go down fighting in AFC Champions League

Qatar’s Sadd win AFC Champions League playoff on penalties in Capital



By James Jose - Senior Reporter

Published: Thu 19 Feb 2015, 1:32 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 10:45 PM

Abu Dhabi — Al Wahda will have to wait to return to the AFC Champions League after they were dramatically put out on penalties by Qatar’s Al Sadd, in the play-off at the Al Nahyan Stadium on Tuesday night.

Suhail Salem (left) of Al Wahda vies with Ibrahim Majed of Al Sadd during their AFC Champions League at Al Nahyan Stadium, in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. — KT photo by Nezar Balout 

New coach Sami Al Jaber and his talisman Ismail Matar, who came off the bench, had spurred Al Wahda on despite the odds being stacked against them. And though being reduced to nine men after an ill-tempered stoppage time in regulation time, Al Wahda fought on and push it to penalties. But Hussain Fadhel’s shot was blocked by goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb as Al Sadd won 9-8 on penalties after Al Sadd’s Grafite’s attempt and Al Wahda’s Amer Omar’s attempt was blocked.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Uzbekistan, Al Jazira missed out on a seventh consecutive appearance in the group stages of the Asian competition after they went down 2-1 to Uzbekistan’s Bunyodkor.

Vokhid Shodiev had given Bunyodkor the lead on 23 minutes but Al Jazira’s ace marksman Ali Ahmed Mabkhout cancelled that out from the spot in first half stoppage time after Jonathan Pitroipa was brought down by goalkeeper Akbar Turaev.

But Sardor Rashidov scored the winner on 52 minutes and Al Jazira finished the game with 10 men after Khalid Sabeel was sent off in stoppage time for felling substitute Dostonbek Khamdamov.

Fan enjoy the proceedings as Sami Al Jaber, Al Wahda new coach watches on during the AFC Champions League against Qatar’s Al Sadd. — KT photo by Nezar Balout

Returning to the Al Wahda game, except for a chance in the opening minutes of the game, where Ibrahim Majed’s swerving freekick was deflected away for a corner by Adel Al Hosani, Al Sadd were second best to a superior Al Wahda. Al Wahda broke the deadlock within the opening 10 minutes through Argentine Damian Diaz, who came up with a stellar showing on the night.

Abdulla Alnobi sent in a long ranger to Sebastian Tagliabue, who galloped down the right with Ibrahim Majed in pursuit. Tagliabue drew the goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb out before cleverly passing it to Diaz, who slotted it into an open goal, on eight minutes.

Al Wahda could have added a cushion to that lead three minutes later after some neat spadework by the Argentine duo Diaz and Tagliabue. The pair played a one-two before relaying it to an unmarked Amer Omar. But Omar’s fine effort agonisingly just whizzed past the far post.

Al Sadd came out better after the break while the Al Wahda defence surprisingly faltered. Al Sadd got the equaliser 10 minutes after the restart through Yusef Ahmed, who latched onto a long ball from the right and shook over defender Ahmed Rashid and slipped it in.

Then, hearts skipped a beat just after the hour after Hasan Al Haydos broke the off-side trap and latched onto a defence-splitting pass from the middle. But his attempt was well kept away by Adel Al Hosani, as the Al Wahda defence began to unravel.

And the Al Wahda defence paid the price a little later with Al Sadd taking the lead through Khalfan Ibrahim, who guided it into the left corner of the post after a cross from Hasan Al Haydos from the right.

That immediately prompted Sami Al Jaber to summon his talisman Ismail Matar for that much needed spark in the middle.

And that spark duly arrived three minutes after his introduction on 70 minutes when he passed on the run to Diaz, who cleverly set it up for Amer Omar on the right. And Omar made no mistake by firing it home. Al Wahda retook the lead in stoppage time through Mohammed Al Shehhi, who fired it from close range after Matar’s freekick had rebounded off a defender.

Al Wahda were just moments away but it was all going to get worse as a brawl broke out between the two sides. And at the end of it, Al Wahda were the most hit, being reduced to nine men after Diaz and Hermach was sent off. Al Sadd’s Mohammed Kasola too was given marching orders.

Khalfan Ibrahim pushed the game into extra time with the equaliser and then fired them into the lead in the first period of extra time. But Al Wahda, despite suffering a numerical disadvantage, made a match of it with Matar curling home a freekick, in the second period of extra time.

james@khaleejtimes.com


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