Abu Dhabi: A penalty conversion in the injury time by Brazilian Leonardo allowed Al Wahda to rally from a goal down and steal a 2-1 win over Qatar’s Al Rayyan in the Group ‘B’ fixture of the 2019 AFC Champions League at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium on Tuesday. At half-time both teams were locked 0-0.
Apart from Leonardo, Argentine striker Sebastian Tagliabue scored for Al Wahda while the hosts were put in the lead by Venezuelan striker Gelmin Rivas.
Al Wahda, with this crucial win, have taken a firm hold of the group standings with six points from three outings while Al Rayyan with four points remain on second spot.
The first session saw the hosts create numerous scoring opportunities, but their final effort lacked precision to beat Al Wahda goalkeeper Mohammad Al Shamsi.
Al Rayyan’s striker Rivas’ headers in the 10th, 21st and 28th minutes missed the target. Al Wahda’s Leonardo also made some defence splitting runs but ran out of ideas once inside the box.
Tagliabue too had a scoring opportunity late in the first half, but his effort from a tight angle went wide after being set by Sultan Al Gafri.
With both teams going into the breather without disturbing the scorers, the match picked up pace after the change of ends.
Rivas got into the scoring act in the 52nd minute. Al Rayyan’s Brazilian mid-fielder Lucca made a fine run from the right flank and Rivas was spot on to deflect the cross home.
Trailing by a goal, Al Wahda’s Dutch coach Henk ten Cate made two quick changes. Yahya Al Gassani came in place of Khalil Ebrahim while star veteran Esmail Mattar replaced Salem Sultan. And it didn’t take long for Mattar to make his presence felt. He found Tagliabue with a measured through and the latter did well to find the goal past an onrushing Al Rayyan goalkeeper Fahad Younis.
Al Rayyan then kept the pressure on but Al Wahda defence was equally up for the challenge. Four minutes from time, Hamdan Al Kamali came up with a sliding tackle to keep Al Rayyan’s reputed striker Sebastian Soria at bay.
Al Wahda were then awarded a penalty in the injury time after Leonardo was brought down by Abdul Rahman Al Korbi and the former made no mistake from the spot.