Abu Dhabi: Brazilian Leonardo pumped in four goals as Al Wahda showed tremendous fighting spirit to rally from an early two-goal deficit to beat Qatar’s Al Rayyan 4-3 in a high voltage Group B encounter of the AFC Champions League at the Al Nahyan stadium on Monday.
Henk Ten Cate’s side now have nine points from four matches and have qualified for the next stage for the first time since they reached the semi-finals of the tournament in 2007.
The match started with a flurry of goals from the visitors. They led within two minutes with their striker Sebastian Soria left unmarked scoring from a header off a long ball from a set piece by Rodrigo Tabata.
A pumped-up Al Rayyan then doubled the lead few minutes later with Gelmin Rivas finding the bottom left corner latching onto a move following a poor clearance from Al Wahda defender.
Al Wahda immediately responded by reducing the margin in the eighth minute with their striker Leonardo showing his Brazilian flair to find the back of the goal.
However, Rivas completed his brace to make it 3-1 in the 21st minute and held on to the two-goal edge into the breather.
It was game on after Al Wahda further reduced the deficit to 3-2 soon after the change of ends. Leonardo scored his second of the night with a left-footed effort after being set by Argentinian forward Sebastián Tagliabue. Then Leonardo completed his hat-trick with a brilliantly crafted assist from Khalil Ebrahim on a move initiated by Tagliabue to make it 3-3 in the 82nd minute. The hosts kept pressing and the match winner came in the 89th minute as Leonardo nodded home from close range after Hussain Abbas found him with a headed pass following a set piece, triggering wild celebrations among the crowd.