Qatar’s Al Sadd storm into quarterfinals
Ace Algerian striker Baghdad Bounedjah struck a brace to propel Qatar’s Al Sadd into the AFC Champions League quarterfinals as they snatched a 2-2 draw against Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli in the second leg of their Round of 16 clash at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium on Monday.
Al Sadd thus secured a 4-3 aggregate win and a spot in the last eight of the premier continental competition for the first time since 2014.
Just like in the first leg, Al Sadd seized the initiative early on. The 1988 and 2011 champions found the back of the net inside two minutes, with tournament top scorer Bounedjah dribbling into the box from the left before lashing in a fierce strike past Al Ahli keeper Mohammed Al Owais.
The visitors’ delight did not last long as Al Ahli equalised in the ninth minute through Claudemir. The Brazilian midfielder was in the right place at the right time to nod home a header to draw parity.
Al Ahli went on to score another goal and it came just before half-time, when Mohannad Aseri capitalised on Abdulkarim Hassan’s failure to clear the ball and tapped in from close range to level the aggregate scores in the 39th minute.
The goal strengthened the hosts’ determination and Fathi Jebali’s men went in search of a goal to put them in the lead in the second half. Aseri came close in the 62nd, getting to the end of Abdulfattah Asiri’s cross before somehow miscuing his shot from a couple of yards out.
In the 69th minute, the complexion of the match changed dramatically after the referee awarded a penalty to Al Sadd when Hamed Ismail was brought down in the box by Claudemir.
Al Owais blocked Bounedjah’s initial effort, but the Algerian made no mistake with the rebound to score his ninth goal of the campaign and send his side through to the quarterfinals.