Al Sadd lose to Al Nassr in Round 6 of 2021 AFC Champions League


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Qatar’s Al Sadd went down fighting 1-2 to Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr in Round 6, Group D of the 2021 AFC Champions League in Riyadh on Thursday.

Abderrazak Hamdallah (33rd minute) and Abdulelah Al Amri (74th minute) scored for Al Nassr, while Santi Cazorla pulled one back for Al Sadd by converting a penalty in the 83rd minute.

Al Nassr reached the knockout Round of 16 as Group D toppers with 11 points. Al Sadd will need to wait to see if their final tally of 10 points will be good enough for them to qualify as one of the best three group runners-up.

Jordan’s Al Wehdat and Iran’s Foolad Khouzestan ended their Group D campaign with seven and five points respectively.

With both Al Sadd and Al Nassr assured of a top-two finish before the match, the equation could not have been simpler: Win on the night and qualify for the Round of 16 as group winners, lose and settle in for an uncomfortable 24-hour wait, and it was Al Nassr who started the stronger.

They could have been ahead as early as the sixth minute, with Hamdallah, a former Al Rayyan player, missing the target with a header after he latched onto Sultan Al Ghannam’s cross.

It was Hamdallah who powered the hosts into the lead, but the goal owed to an error from Al Sadd goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham, whose botched clearance went directly into the path of the 2020 ACL Golden Boot winner, who seized the opportunity to slam home his fourth of the tournament from 15 yards.

The Hamdallah show continued five minutes before the break, but there was a twist to the plot this time as he squandered a gilt-edged chance to double the lead, missing a gaping net after Noureddine Amrabat had sprinted into the box to create the opportunity.

After the break, Cazorla forced Waleed Abdullah into only his second save of the night when the Al Nassr shot-stopper got down to deny the Spaniard in the 70th minute.

But that momentum was abruptly halted when Al Nassr found their second goal four minutes later, with Al Amri rising high to steer Amrabat’s free-kick into the net.

Al Sadd found a glimmer of hope when Ali Al Lajami hauled down Yousef Abdurrazaq just inside the penalty area, with Cazorla raising the stakes by slotting the subsequent spot-kick but, despite a dramatic final few minutes - which included Al Sadd boss Xavi being sent off - Al Nassr held on to claim the valuable three points.