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Late Bounedjah brace hands Wasl defeat

Cheetahs lose 2-1 to Al Sadd in ACL group opener

Gulf News

Dubai

A late brace from Baghdad Bounedjah handed Al Wasl a 2-1 defeat at home to Qatar’s Al Sadd in their Asian Champions League (ACL) group opener on Tuesday.

Fabio Lima got the opener and his 100th goal for the club on 26 minutes but Bounedjah replied with efforts on 79 and 90 minutes to seal the win.

Given that it was Al Wasl’s first return to ACL football in a decade - that too against a side who have not only won this competition twice but who also boast former Barcelona star Xavi among their ranks - it was a promising display from the hosts.

Lima got the opener before the half hour, running into the area from the right flank and rounding two defenders in the box before shooting diagonally across goal and into the bottom left corner from the tightest of angles.

This was his 100th goal for the club since joining from Brazil’s Atletico Goianiense in 2014, and had just followed Al Sadd’s best chance of the half up the other end a minute earlier when Ali Asad’s volley from Yasir Eisa’s cross went bouncing wide.

Al Wasl keeper Sultan Al Mentheri kept the hosts in it in the second half with a one-handed save of Bounedjah’s bicycle kick on 70 minutes, followed by a brave block of the follow-up from the same player just moments later.

But then nine minutes later Xavi found Bounedjah waiting in the middle of the box who brought down his pass with his left and then turned and struck with his right for the equaliser.

Bounedjah then got the winner on 90 minutes after converting Akram Afif’s cross into the bottom right of goal from the edge of the area.

In Group C’s other game on Tuesday Iran’s Persepolis beat Uzbekistan’s Nasaf Qarshi 3-0 at home, courtesy of a 20th minute opener from Godwin Mensa and a second half brace from Ali Alipour on 66 and 71 minutes.

 

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