Qatari side Lekhwiya secured their passage into the AFC Champions League group stage with a 4-1 victory over Kuwait Sports Club in their final qualifying round match at Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium yesterday .
El Jaish also progressed, beating Kuwait’s Qadsiya 3-0.
Sebastian Soria’s opener for the home side on 29 minutes was matched by Javad Nekounam’s spot kick equaliser five minutes later. But two goals in six second half minutes for Lekhwiya from first Youssef Msakni and then Karim Boudiaf took the game beyond the AFC Cup holders.
Luiz Junior (Luiz Mairton Carlos Júnior) added a fourth in stoppage time to add some gloss to the score line and confirm Lekhwiya’s place in Group C alongside two-time AFC Champions League winners Al Ittihad of Saudi Arabia, inaugural ACL champions Al Ain and Iran’s Tractorsazi.
“I’m extremely happy with the big result that we had and the most important thing is that we managed to qualify to the group stage of the AFC Champions League,” said Lekhwiya coach Eric Gerets.
“I asked the players to play with big concentration and take advantage of their chances and this is what they did.
“In the first half there were not many chances but we still managed to take the lead. Kuwait SC had a good pressure early in the second half but we held on and scored three goals which helped us to win the match.”
Lekhwiya were the better side in the early minutes of the game and they eventually converted their dominance into a goal after 29 minutes.
Forward Soria received a neat pass from new signing Vladimir Weiss and edged past Husain Al Shammari before going into the area and scoring with a powerful right foot shot into the far corner past Kuwait SC goalkeeper Musab al-Kandari.
Kuwait SC levelled the score on 34 minutes, however, after Khaled Muftah fouled forward Rogerinho (Rogério de Assis Silva Coutinho) inside the area and Iran captain Nekounam made no mistake from the spot as he slotted the ball past Lekhwiya goalkeeper Amine Lecomte.
The Kuwaiti side looked to complete their comeback in the second period and pressed from the restart with Lecomte made to work hard in the opening exchanges.
But Kuwait SC were unable to make their chances count, and two Lekhwiya goals in the space of six minutes turned the momentum the home side’s way.
First midfielder Msakni found himself in the right place to steer home a Soria cross between the legs of Al Kandari on 72 minutes.
Just six minutes later, Msakni then turned from scorer to provider, feeding Boudiaf who scored with a low shot into the right corner.
And the Tunisian Msakni capped off a memorable night for himself and Lekhwiya deep into stoppage time with another assist, this time setting up Luiz Junior who fired past the Kuwait SC custodian.
“We could have got a better result today especially as we had good scoring chances early in the second half before Lekhwiya managed to take advantage of their own chances and score three more goals to seal the match,” said Kuwait SC coach Marin Ion.
“We missed several chances and our players lost their concentration after the second goal of Lekhwiya, who were the better side in the match.”
Meanwhile, El Jaish ensured there will be a full complement of four clubs from Qatar in the Group Stages of the AFC Champions League with a straightforward 3-0 win .
The game’s opener came via new signing Nilmar(Nilmar Honorato da Silva) on 36 minutes and in the second half goals from first Mohamed Muntari on 63 minutes and then Mohamed Sayed, with five minutes remaining, settled the tie.
Having now secured back-to-back AFC Champions League appearances, El Jaish join two-time semi-finalists Bunyodkor of Uzbekistan, Saudi League champions Al Fateh and Foolad Khouzestan of Iran in Group B of this year’s competition.
El Jaish had the upper hand right from the kickoff and the home team dominated proceedings, creating several openings before they eventually took the lead in the 36th minute through Brazilian forward Nilmar.
Transferred from domestic rivals Al Rayyan at the end of January, the Brazilian showed his pedigree with a powerful left-foot strike on the far left side past Qadsiya SC goalkeeper Nawaf Al Khaldi, after being teed up by strike-partner Jires Kembo-Ekoko.
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