Al Sadd crush Al Nassr to reach semis

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Algerian forward Baghdad Bounedjah celebrates after scoring Al Sadd’s third goal during the AFC Champions League quarter-final match against Saudi’s Al Nassr at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha yesterday.

Qatar football giants and former champions Al Sadd yesterday relied on a brilliant penalty kick by feared striker Baghdad Bounedjah against Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr to reach the semi-finals of the AFC Champions League.

Al Sadd, the 2011 champions, last night produced a top-class performance to beat Al Nassr 3-1 for a 4-3 aggregate victory at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium where Bounedjah’s second-half goal sealed the deal for the home side.

Xavi’s Al Sadd yesterday desperately needed a win, having lost 2-1 in Riyadh, a couple of weeks ago.

Earlier, national team hero Akram Afif opened the scoring with a slick close-range snap-header in the 26th minute. Al Nassr equalised through Abderazak Hamdallah, who was fortunate to see a deflection off Gabi following a direct free-kick from the edge of the Al Sadd penalty box.

The deflection wrong-footed goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb as the ball landed into the net to give Al Nassr a quick equaliser.

Qatar captain Hassan Al Haydos produced a superb long-range shot in the 59th minute to give Al Sadd a 2-1 cushion until Bounedjah’s successful penalty in the 83rd minute. Al Haydos unleashed a powerful shot from out the Al Nassr box leaving the visitor’s Australia keeper goalkeeper Brad Jones in no position to stop the ball.

Late in the second half, Al Haydos set up a one-on-one chance for Afif, and before he could apply the finish, the Qatari international was brought down by Al Nassr’s Abdullah Madu, prompting the referee to point to the spot.

Al Haydos was thrilled with the victory. He said yesterday: “This quarter-final, second leg, was not an easy game as Al Nassr is a very strong team. But we played the game like we wanted to. Our performance was so good that we overcame the deficit with a fighting show.”

Afif said: “I give credit to our backroom staff. They helped us prepare well for this clash. Also I want to thank the fans of other clubs - Al Gharafa, Al Rayyan, Al Duhail - their fans also supported us. There was a huge number present in the ground. The last game was a lesson for us not to give up until the end. We wanted to score two goals and we did that. We played really hard for 90 minutes.”

The star striker added: “We took a great deal of confidence from the first leg but wanted to win 3-1 win to be sure. They were fortunate to get their goal as there was a deflection. But overall we fought well. We feel we are doing well as we keep improving our game.”

Al Sadd now await the winners of today’s clash between Saudi rivals Al Hilal and Al Ittihad. The first leg of the semi-finals takes place in Doha on October 1, with the return leg in Saudi three weeks later.

In 2011, Al Sadd beat South Korea’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 4–2 on penalties, after a 2–2 draw in regulation time to win the AFC Champions League title.

Source: www.thepeninsulaqatar.com

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