By Sports Reporter Doha
Veteran Rodrigo Tabata played only about 20 minutes for Al Sadd during their AFC Champions League match against Al Ain on Friday, but his contribution to the team’s cause left everyone singing his praises.
Al Sadd coach Xavi was particularly pleased how the midfield tactician of Brazilian and Japanese heritage made an instant impact on the game after coming in as a substitute in the 73rd minute.
Tabata, who is two months shy of his 40th birthday, showed his class with some deft touches before putting the match to bed with an 86th minute goal that gave Al Sadd a 4-0 victory and a spot in the last 16 of the continent’s premier tournament.
Earlier a brace from Algeria international striker Baghdad Bounedjah and a full-stretch tap-in by Akram Afif had given Al Sadd a comfortable three-goal cushion that had completely demoraliszed Al Ain.
At 39 years 10 months, Tabata became the second oldest scorer in the history of the AFC Champions League behind Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors’ Lee Dong-gook.
“We are happy because of the way we played, everyone from defence to attack played exceptionally well,” said Xavi.
“We created more chances today, but what was more important is that we converted those chances and in general, I am happy with how the players are improving with each game played. Luck was also on our side today. We deserved the win as much as we did the last time out.
“I am happy with what Tabata has done. He has done well in training and deserved to score today. He is a great example to everyone in the team.”
Afif also expressed his delight after Al Sadd’s 4-0 victory over Al Ain.
In his comments after the match, Afif said: “The match was difficult in the first half. We went ahead with a goal, but in the second half we showed a better level and succeeded in winning 4-0.”
He added: “The team played in a balanced formation that made things easy and gave us a deserved victory.”
Akram also stressed that the competition is still ongoing, and said: “We hope for the best in the next stage.”
Al Sadd defender Khoukhi Boualem described the 4-0 victory as a well-deserved result.
Speaking after the game, Khoukhi said: “This win gave us a great boost for our morale before the next matches.”
“We performed well, and we managed to play a big game. We succeeded in correcting the mistakes from the first match and we got three important points for the team’s campaign.”
The Qatari international added: “The next match will be tougher, and we must continue to work and be focused, and strive for victories, in order to continue our progress in the tournament as required.”
Meanwhile, Al Ain manager Pedro Emanuel on the other hand conceded defeat and believed the Qatar Stars League side deserved the win.
“In my opinion, we played well and had a few chances to score but as things go in tournaments like these, whoever scores first is most likely to win,” said Emanuel.
“I cannot talk about the result, there is not much to say when the loss is 4-0, the margin of the loss does not matter because we wanted all the game’s points. Al Sadd deserved their win and regardless of any reasons we cannot debate the fact that it is a well-deserved win. They are a great team with a good squad of players who score in every game.”
“Regardless of the result, I can say I am proud of how my team played. Having not played a match in six months, my players proved their ability. We will play the next match with pride and we will try to get the points.”
Matchday Five sees Al Sadd come up against Al Nassr with the top spot in Group D up for grabs for both sides, while Al Ain come up against Sepahan FC, who are clinging on the slightest of chances left for progressing to the Round of 16.
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