Al Duhail, Al Sadd in 1-1 draw in AFC Champions League Round of 16


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Qatar’s big guns Al Duhail and Al Sadd played out a 1-1 draw in their AFC Champions League Round of 16 first-leg match at the newly-opened Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah, Doha, on Tuesday.

Qatar international striker Akram Afif took reigning QNB Stars League champions Al Sadd ahead in the 30th minute, the lead that was cancelled out in the 44th minute by Tunisian attacking midfielder Yousef Msakni, who made his second debut for Amir Cup holders Al Duhail, who had to concede a goal in their home game.

The return leg will be played on Tuesday, 13th August, at the Al Sadd Stadium and the winners will face either Al Nasr of Saudi Arabia or Al Wahda of the UAE in the quarterfinals.

Msakni returned to Al Duhail ahead of this season after a loan spell at Qatar-owned Belgian club KAS Eupen, while South Korean playmaker Nam Tae-Hee swapped sides, joining Al Sadd from Al Duhail.

It was also the first competitive game for Al Sadd under Xavi Hernandez, who had captained them before ending his illustrious playing career and replaced Portuguese coach Jesualdo Ferreira.

Meanwhile, young Iraqi striker Mohanad Ali made his debut for Al Duhail when he took the field in the second half.

Al Duhail suffered a blow in the 18th minute when star Moroccan defender Mehdi Benatia walked off the pitch with an injury and was replaced by Qatar international Bassam Al Rawi.

Al Sadd goalkeeper Saad Al Dossari made his first save in the 24th minute when he dived low to catch Mohammad Musa’s header from Ali Afif’s out-swinging corner-kick.

The stalemate finally ended when a misplaced Mohammed Muntari pass was collected by Jung Woo-Young who caught the Al Duhail defence napping by sending an overhead pass for Akram to cut inside and drill into the back of the net, beating goalkeeper Amine Lecomte at his near post.

Al Duhail, coached by Portuguese Rui Faria, drew parity before the end of first half when winger Paolo Edmilson provided a cross that was chested down by Muntari for skipper Msakni, who fired home with a first-time shot from the edge of the box.

Al Duhail striker Almoez Ali had his first sight of goal five minutes after the restart. Msakni and Edmilson exchanged quick passes on the right wing and the former slipped a through pass for Ali, who tried his luck from an angle, but was denied by the Al Sadd goalkeeper.

Both teams tried hard to gain an upper hand in the second half, but the deadlock remained.