Al Sadd beat Foolad in Round 5 of AFC Champions League


QNB Stars League champions Al Sadd rode on a 64th-minute goal by Nam Tae-Hee to beat Iran’s Foolad Khouzestan 1-0 in Round 5, Group D of the 2021 AFC Champions League in Riyadh on Monday.

Al Sadd moved to the top of the group with 10 points, whereas Foolad remained on five points.

Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr and Jordan’s Al Wehdat, the other teams in Group D, have eight and four points respectively.

Al Sadd, who came into the tie having defeated Al Wehdat back-to-back, started brightly, dominating possession in the opening minutes, but Foolad goalkeeper Mohsen Foroozan was on form, cutting out the rival passes and crosses into the box with ease.

Foolad matched Al Sadd’s aggression, but could not get their shots on target, with Sasan Ansari rattling the side netting in the 26th minute, before Zobeir Niknafs missed with his shot after a perfect set-up by Ayanda Patosi seven minutes later.

For Al Sadd, the first half was a story of missed opportunities, especially so for Baghdad Bounedjah who was always a step too late, as the Algerian failed to connect to any of the crosses into the area.

The stalemate continued well into the second half, with Al Sadd holding the most possession and the Foolad defence finally began showing signs of cracking as Mohammed Waad found space between the backline, but his shot lacked the firepower to challenge Foroozan.

Al Sadd should have opened the scoring on the hour mark as the Foolad goalmouth was left wide open after Foroozan failed to hold onto the ball, but Bounedjah’s strike was safely swept away by defender Moussa Coulibaly.

Al Sadd’s persistence, however, paid off four minutes later when Nam rose high to head home Hassan Al Haydous’ curling cross to end the stalemate.

The South Korean then almost turned provider in the 69th minute when Mohammed Jadoua headed in his cross, but to Al Sadd’s dismay, the effort was ruled out for offside.

An exchange of passes between Chimba and Patosi gave Foolad a chance to equalise in the 81st minute, but goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham was perfectly placed to deny Patosi.