Al Sadd beat Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli 2-1
Boualem Khoukhi stole the show with a two-goal effort on either side of half-time as Qatar’s Al Sadd pulled off a 2-1 win over Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli in their AFC Champions League Round of 16 first-leg tie on Monday.
Khoukhi, who came good after being affected by injury intermittently during this season, struck in the third and 28th minutes.
Mohannad Aseri pulled one back for the visitors in the 47th minute.
Al Sadd missed Ali Asad and Jugurtha Hamroun due to injuries, with the former recovering from a knee problem and the latter nursing a muscle cramp.
Defender Pedro Miguel also missed the game due to suspension. He had received a second yellow card during Al Sadd’s last Group C match against Iran’s Persepolis.
However, Spanish midfield star Xavi Hernandez and Algerian striker Baghdad Bounedjah, who both missed Al Sadd’s 4-0 Emir’s Cup quarterfinal victory over Al Khor due to suspension for dissent during their Qatar Cup final loss to Al Duhail recently, were back in action.
Al Sadd started their first AFC Champions League knockout game since 2015 on a bright note and made the breakthrough very early as Khoukhi got into the box after a fine exchange with Xavi and coolly slotted home with his left foot.
Despite the early setback, the visitors seemed confident of levelling the scores and came close to scoring twice in the space of one minute. However, Ahmed Suhail and Salem Al Hajri produced two goal-line clearances to deny Abdulfattah Asiri and Hussain Al Mogahwi respectively.
Just as Al Ahli looked to make their mark, Khoukhi struck again with a powerful header past Mohammed Al Owais following Baghdad Bounedjah’s cross from the right.
A transformed Al Ahli were rewarded soon after the start of second half when Aseri headed in Amir Kurdi’s cross. But that was all Al Ahli could do.
Al Sadd had qualified for the Round of 16 as runners-up from the group. The return leg is on 14th May at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah.
New QNB Stars League champions Al Duhail, Qatar’s other representative in the Round of 16 of Asia’s premier club competition, will take on Al Ain in their Round of 16 first-leg match at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on Tuesday.