Qatar striker Almoez Ali and new signing Ramin Rezaeian scored as Al Duhail got back to winning ways in a fiercely-contested tactical battle in the AFC Champions League. The QNB Stars League champions beat Sharjah 2-1 at Education City Stadium yesterday.
Sharjah went into the game in pursuit of their first win in the AFC Champions League since 2004, having collected one point from their first two games.
Al Duhail, meanwhile, were looking to make amends having lost to Al Taawoun on Matchday Two.
Duhail head coach Walid Regragui said he was satisfied with the performance of the team.
“The result of the match is excellent, especially since it is our first match after the long hiatus. With time the team will regain its full brilliance, and I am satisfied with the performance,” Regragui was quoted as saying on Duhail’s website.
Talking about Almoez, he said, “Almoez is an ambitious and distinguished player who deserves to be present in all matches. Everyone knows that Almoez is a leading player and his love for the team is limitless, which ensures he always gives his best.”
Igor Coronado had the first chance of the match for Sharjah after eight minutes, but his free-kick from all of 30 yards out sailed over the crossbar.
Al Duhail’s best chance of the opening period came just before the half-hour mark, when Ahmed Yasser rose highest to meet a cross from a free-kick. Adel al-Hosani did enough to initially parry it then followed through with a sweeper-style clearance.
Five minutes before the end of the first half, Sharjah were caught napping after a misplaced pass from Mohamed Abdulbaset allowed Luiz Junior to collect the ball deep into his own half and supply an impeccable pass to Almoez who expertly applied his finish into the bottom corner from the edge of the box to put Al Duhail in the lead.
Al Duhail picked up from where they left off after the restart and within six minutes, Abdullah al-Ahrak had won a free-kick just outside the Sharjah penalty box and new signing Rezaeian curled it perfectly into the top corner to double the Qataris’ lead.
Five minutes later, Coronado used his trickery to dribble his way past two Al Duhail players before being brought down by Ali inside the box, prompting the referee to point to the spot. The former Palermo playmaker stepped up and coolly converted in his trademark style to half the deficit.
Despite relative dominance for Sharjah and coach Abdulaziz al-Anbari throwing in a trio of attacking players in Khalid Bawazir, Saif Rashid and Salem Saleh, Al Duhail stood tall to see off the match and move up to six points, five points ahead of their opponents.
Sharjah’s chances of progress to the next round are now hanging on their ability to collect the three points in the reverse fixture on Friday.
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