Baghdad Bounedjah’s Asian scoring spree continued as the striker led Al-Sadd to the quarterfinals of the 2018 AFC Champions League, with his brace giving the Wolves a 2-2 draw with Al-Ahli (KSA) in the second leg of the Round of 16 tie played at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah on Monday. The result handed Al-Sadd a 4-3 aggregate win and saw them qualify for the quarterfinals for the first time since 2014.
Bounedjah’s second minute goal gave Al-Sadd an early lead in Jeddah before Claudemir equalised in the ninth minute. Al Ahli then scored again through Muhannad Asiri, who netted in the 39th minute to put his side level on aggregate. However, it was Al-Sadd who would have the last laugh, with Bounedjah finishing off a rebound in the 69th minute after his penalty was initially saved.
Al-Sadd will now await the draw for the quarterfinal round to know their next opponents. The two legs of the quarterfinal will be played on 27/28 August and 17/18 September.
A fiery start
The second leg was always going to be a tight affair after Al-Sadd could only manage a narrow 2-1 win in the first leg in Doha. Both teams went on to show intense desire as the whistle blew for kick-off, with each team scoring a goal apiece in the first ten minutes.
Al-Sadd was first, with Bounedjah making the most of empty space to pick up Abdelkarim Hassan’s touchline pass and dribble into the Al-Ahli box in the second minute. The Algerian took a step to cut in and beat his marker before finishing with an unstoppable shot that nestled in the far corner.
Seven minutes later, Al-Ahli hit back through Claudemir who got his head to a deflected free-kick to direct the ball past Saad Al-Dosari in the Al-Sadd goal and put his side level on the night.
Al-Ahli strike again
Both teams had chances thereafter and Akram Afif had a glorious chance to give his side a bigger advantage after being sent through on goal by Xavi in the 33rd minute, but the youngster’s shot was easily saved by Al-Ahli keeper Mohammed Al-Owais.
In the end, it was Al-Ahli who would go into halftime the happier side after Muhannad Asiri struck in the 39th minute. The striker made the most of Abdelkarim Hassan’s failure to clear a loose ball and tapped in from close range to give Al-Ahli a 2-1 lead and also level the aggregate scores.
Bounedjah misses…and scores
The second half saw Al-Sadd strengthen their determination and go all out for a second away goal that could help kill Al-Ahli’s hopes. However, it was easier said than done, with misfortune coming in the way. In the 55th minute, Abdelkarim’s header off a corner flew into the air and Bounedjah saw the opportunity for an overhead kick. The Algerian produced a stunning acrobatic effort but the ball crashed off the crossbar.
Bounedjah was then given a chance to make amends in the 69th minute, after Al-Sadd were awarded a penalty following a foul on Hamid Ismail. The tournament’s top scorer stepped up and saw his initial attempt saved by Al-Owais, but he was alert enough to control the rebound and calmly slot it past the keeper to put Al-Sadd level with Al-Ahli on the night and to 4-3 ahead on aggregate.
Al-Ahli press forward, Al-Sadd survive
In the final few minutes of the match, the Al-Ahli players pushed forward as the clock ticked towards their elimination. Despite intense pressure, the Al-Sadd defence stood their ground and kept it tight at the back while threatening with the counter-attacking plays of Bounedjah and Jugurtha Hamroun.
Finally, after five minutes of injury time, the referee blew his whistle to signal the end of the match and Al-Sadd’s progression to the quarterfinals of Asia’s premier continental competition.
Al-Sadd x Al-Ahli (AFC Champions League Round of 16 second leg)
King Abdullah Sports City, Jeddah
Al-Sadd: Saad Al-Dosari, Morteza Pouraliganji, Pedro Miguel, Abdelkarim Hassan, Hamid Ismail (Ahmed Suhail), Yasir Abubakar, Khoukhi Boualem, Salem Al-Hajri, Baghdad Bounedjah, Akram Afif (Jugurtha Hamroun), Xavi
Al-Ahli: Mohammed Al-Owais, Mark Milligan, Salman Al-Moasher, Muhannad Asiri, Saleh Al-Amri, Claudemir, Aqeel Balghaith, Moataz Hawsawi, Mansour Al-Harbi, Abdulfattah Asiri, Mohammad Al-Fateel
2-2 (Al-Sadd win 4-3 on aggregate)
Baghdad Bounedjah 2′, 69′
Muhannad Asiri 39′
Moataz Hawasawi 33′
Yasir Abubakar 42′
Abdelkarim Hassan 86′
Muhannad Asiri 86′
Saad Al-Dosari 87′
Fu Ming (Main referee)
Ma Ji (Linesman)
Huo Weiming (Linesman)
Shen Yinhao (Fourth official)