Qatar’s Al Sadd held 2-2 by Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor
Qatar’s Al Sadd were held to a 2-2 draw by Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor who twice came from behind at the Pakhtakor Central Stadium in Tashkent in their 2019 AFC Champions League Group D third-round match on Monday.
The newly-crowned QNB Stars League champions came into the match having ended a four-match winless run in the competition. Meanwhile, Pakhtakor hoped to stay unbeaten on top of the group with a home win.
Both sides made their attacking intents clear from the start and Pakhtakor’s Jaloliddin Masharipov tested the goalkeeper from distance just 90 seconds into the match.
Al Sadd’s first sight of goal came quickly after and it was decisive as Baghdad Bounedjah supplied a low cross for Xavi who curled it from the edge of the box into the top corner to open the scoring for the visitors in the sixth minute.
Within three minutes, Pakhtakor responded in spectacular fashion as Khojiakbar Alijonov pounced on a poor defensive clearance to unleash a thunderous drive that nestled in the top corner of Meshal Barshim’s goal.
Goals kept raining and it was again Al Sadd captain Xavi who found the back of the net. The Spanish midfielder curled-in a perfect free-kick from 25 yards that beat goalkeeper Sanjar Kuvvatov to restore Al Sadd’s lead in the 16th minute.
Pakhtakor were again able to claw back the margin before the half-time break. Masharipov crossed for Dragan Ceran who directed his header to the far post past Barshim to make it 2-2.
The hosts, propelled by a loud crowd, dominated possession in the second half, while Al Sadd looked to hit on the counter.
Despite the two teams’ best efforts, there were no goals in the second half and the spoils were shared ahead of the reverse fixture in two weeks’ time in Doha.