Dubai: Sebastian Tagliabue struck 11 minutes from the final whistle only to see Al Wahda fall just short against Saudi Arabia’s Al Nasr for a spot in the quarter-finals of the AFC Champions League in Abu Dhabi late on Monday.
The Saudi club walked away with a thrilling 3-2 win in the second leg for an aggregate 4-3 result against The Clarets, who have now failed to register a single win in the knockout stages of the continental club competition despite reaching the quarter-finals in 2004 and their best effort of the semi-finals in 2007.
Al Nasr will now meet Qatar’s Al Duhail or Al Sadd in the home-and-away quarter-finals that are scheduled to be played on August 26 and September 16.
Coming in handy for Al Nasr was Brazilian Giuliano’s brace as the club from Saudi Arabia made it to the last eight for the first time ever. They were joined by another Saudi side, Al Ittihad, who rode on a brace from Romarinho for a 6-4 aggregate victory over Iran’s Zob Ahan after winning the second leg 4-3.
After holding on for a 1-1 draw in Riyadh one week back, the Al Wahda versus Al Nasr clash at the Al Nahyan Stadium promised to be an engrossing affair. The spectators had a lot to cheer for as Al Nasr bounced back from a goal down to win 3-2 on a hot, humid night in Abu Dhabi.
The hosts dominated early and the pressure paid off in the 27th minute when Leonardo sent a hasty clearance from Al Nasr captain Omar Al Hawasawi to Mohammad Al Menhali to volley home for the lead. The visitors hung in and found an equaliser in the 41st minute when Moroccan Abderrazak Hamdallah’s diving header entered the Al Wahda nets.
Five minutes later, Hamdallah provided the assist as he flicked Abdullah Al Khaibari’s pass to Giuliano who slotted his fourth goal of the tournament this year. Giuliano stretched Al Nasr’s lead on the rebound after goalkeeper Mohammad Al Shamshi had parried a shot from Hamad Al Mansour in the 62nd minute. Trailing 2-4 on aggregate, Al Wahda pulled one back with through Argentinian Tagliabue in the 79th minute, but Al Nasr simply hung in there to make the last eight stages.
Al Wahda 2 Al Nasr 3 (3-4 on aggregate)
Zob Ahan 3 Al Ittihad 4 (4-6 on aggregate)