Hamdallah scores brace in Al Nassr win
September 16 2020 02:10 AM
Al Nassr’s Abderazak Hamdallah (second from left) celebrates his goal with teammates during the AFC
Al Nassr’s Abderazak Hamdallah (second from left) celebrates his goal with teammates during the AFC Champions League Group D match against Sepahan at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium yesterday. PICTURES: Noushad Thekkayil

AFC/ Doha

Al Nassr FC continued their charge towards the 2020 AFC Champions League Round of 16 with a 2-0 win over Sepahan thanks to a brace from Abderazzaq Hamdallah in Group D yesterday.
The two sides went into the game with a point separating them; with Al Nassr in second place with four points, needing a win to keep them at arm’s length from third-placed Sepahan.
The first half started slow, but things quickly changed when Argentinian Gonzalo ‘Pity’ Martinez, who was making his AFC Champions League debut, sent an indirect free-kick with surgical accuracy to Hamdallah’s head, the Moroccan making no mistake from six yards to put his team ahead at the half-hour mark.
With chances coming at a premium, Iran’s Sepahan ended the first half with Mohamed Mohebi driving in a low cross that missed goalkeeper Brad Jones’ hands in the six yard box, but teammate Sultan al-Ghannam was present in the right place at the right time to clear before any damage could be done.
Just three minutes into the second half, Hamdallah doubled the Riyadh-based side’s lead and his own tally through tapping in a rebound that fell to him just outside the six yard box, after a magnificent solo run down the right by al-Ghannam ended with his initial shot being deflected into the Moroccan’s path.
Khalid al-Ghannam missed a golden chance to kill off the game and make it 3-0, when Hamdallah played him in on goal but with keeper Payam Niazmand only to beat, he fired wide to the stopper’s left.
With his team upping the ante in search of a goal, Mohebi found the net after rising high to head in but the referee ruled it out, judging that there was a foul in that effort. Five minutes from time, Jones was called into action when substitute Reza Mirzaei hammered in a low shot from range but the keeper was more than equal to it.
The Australian was given one last challenge — again from Mirzaei — closer to the final whistle but held the ball, as Al Nassr held on for a valuable win and a clean sheet.
With this win, Al Nassr replaced Al Sadd at the top of Group D on seven points, while the Isfahan-based side remained in third place, two points off a qualification spot ahead of Matchday Four’s reverse fixture on Friday.

Late Khalilzadeh goal seals Persepolis win over Al Taawoun

A late Shojae Khalilzadeh goal Iran’s Persepolis FC a valuable 1-0 victory over Al Taawoun FC in 2020 AFC Champions League Group C yesterday.
Persepolis went into the game chasing their first win in the 2020 edition, but for them to do so, they needed to overcome group leaders and hitherto unbeaten Al Taawoun.
After a cagey opening 20 minutes, the first chance of the game fell Al Taawoun’s way as centre-back Iago Santos looked to send a towering header towards goal, but his attempt went marginally over the crossbar.
The two sides continued to battle in the middle of the park, with no major chances being created at either end for most of the first half.
With 10 minutes to go until the break, right-winger Fahad al-Rashidi dribbled his way to the byline before sending a low cross into the path of Mitchell Duke who took it first time from five yards out but goalkeeper Hamed Lak produced stunning back-to-back saves to deny the Australian twice and Sultan Madash fumbled the rebound to waste Al Taawoun’s biggest chance of the half.
Al-Rashidi continued to be the main creative outlet for the Saudis, and in the final minute of the half, he once more made progress down the right and delivered a cross that was cleared by Siamak Nemati, but only as far as Cedric Amissi who controlled and struck on the half-volley, forcing another fine reflex save from Lak as the first half ended goalless.
The pattern continued in the second half, but with Persepolis seeing more of the ball and looking more adventurous as the game ticked on.
Head coach Yahya Golmohammadi’s men had their best chance of the match in the 72nd minute when club captain Ahmad Nourollahi powered a header from a Bashar Resan free-kick, but goalkeeper Cassio produced a diving save to keep the danger away.
The deadlock was finally broken with eight minutes to go through the unlikeliest of sources. An out-swinging corner at the near post was nodded onto the path of defender Khalilzadeh, who was well-positioned at the far post to control and apply a left-footed finish into the bottom corner to hand Persepolis what would prove to be the winning goal.
Despite the defeat, Al Taawoun remain top of Group C thanks to a superior head-to-head record over second-placed Al Duhail SC who had beaten Sharjah FC earlier in the day to reach six points, while Persepolis climb above Sharjah into second place with four points, just two behind the group leaders at the halfway point.

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