Bounedjah powers Al Sadd to second straight victory
February 20 2018 11:26 PM
Al-Sadd’s players celebrate after winning the AFC Champions League match against Iran’s Persepolis at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium in Doha yesterday. At bottom, Baghdad Bounedjah celebrates after scoring. PICTURES: Noushad Thekkayil and agencies.

By Sports Reporter/Doha

The unstoppable Baghdad Bounedjah came up with his second consecutive brace in as many matches to power Al Sadd to an emphatic 3-1 victory over Iran’s Persepolis in their AFC Champions League Group C encounter at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium yesterday.
Bounedjah, who had also starred in Al Sadd’s win over the UAE’s Al Wasl last week with two goals, struck in each half yesterday at help his team go top of their group with six points from two matches.
Last week, Al Sadd had beaten the UAE’s Al Wasl 2-1 in an away game.
Yesterday, playing their first continental home game at home in three years, Jesualdo Ferreira’s Al Sadd began the match on the front foot with the triumvirate of Xavi, Akram Afif and Bounedjah linking well in attack.
Their dominance paid off in the 36th minute when an unmarked Bounedjah surged into the box to meet Afif’s cross and head in the first goal.
After ending the first period without a shot on target, Persepolis came into the second half looking to make amends.
However, the visitors’ hopes were dashed as Bounedjah got on the scoresheet once again in the 51st minute. A clever assist from Xavi set up the Algerian striker, who took his time in the box before netting with a curled finish for his fourth goal of the campaign.
The Qatari side added to their lead the 66th minute, as substitute Boualem Khoukhi scored with a stinging shot after being teed up by Ali Asad.
The hosts were denied a clean sheet deep into additional time after Persepolis struck a consolation goal through Siamak Nemati, with the very last kick of the game.
Coach Ferreira, who was all smiles watching his team demolish their rivals, was thrilled with the victory.
“It was a convincing win. The boys were extremely good today and I don’t have any complaints. If we maintain this form we can progress deep into the tournament. However, we will take each match as it comes,” said Ferreira.
The Portuguese added that Al Sadd can beat any team on their day.
“We are very committed. The players know that playing for such a big club is a big honour. They give their best in every match.”
Al Sadd travel to Uzbekistan to face Nasaf on Matchday Three while Persepolis host UAE’s Al Wasl in Tehran.
Meanwhile, Al Ain and Al Rayyan split the points with a 1-1 draw at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain.
The home side dominated the early proceedings and were first to find the target when Marcus Berg converted from the penalty spot after Caio Fernandes was fouled inside the box in the 10th minute.
Al Rayyan got back into the game in a similar fashion when Abderrazzaq Hamadalla was hurdled inside the six-yard-box and stepped up to take the resulting penalty kick himself to equalise for the Qatari side in the 28th minute.
Rayan Yaslam’s effort from outside the box for Al Ain was the closest either side came to adding a second after the break as the final whistle announced a second draw for the two Group D sides. 
Al Ain will play Esteghlal next at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium  while Al Rayyan travel to Riyadh to play Al Hilal next.
Meanwhile, Alexandre Pato underlined his importance to Chinese Super League side Tianjin Quanjian when the Brazilian came off the bench to score a late equaliser against Japan’s Kashiwa Reysol, maintaining their unbeaten start.
Tianjin occupy second place in Group E on four points, two behind former champions Jeonbuk Motors who handed Diego Forlan’s Kitchee a 6-0 thrashing.
Brazilian striker Adriano claimed a hat-trick – including two penalties – while 38-year-old striker Lee Dong-gook was also on target.
There was a big win, too, for Shanghai SIPG with Vitor Pereira’s side beating Melbourne Victory 4-1 as the Australian side continue their search for a first-ever win away from home in the competition.

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