An emphatic second-half display saw Sharjah cruise to a 6-0 victory over Al Taawoun FC to move above them into second place in Group C of the 2020 AFC Champions League yesterday.
Sharjah got off to a flying start and within six minutes they had handed goalkeeper Cassio his first test of the night. Brazilian forward Welliton broke free down the right and squared for his compatriot Igor Coronado who applied a powerful low finish, but the Al Taawoun goalkeeper was up to the challenge and made the save.
Halfway through the first 45 minutes, Cassio repeated his heroics in an almost-identical manner. This time it was Khalid Bawazir who was set up by Welliton’s cross from the right and the midfielder watched Al Taawoun’s Brazilian goalkeeper make a fine save to keep the scores level.
Sharjah’s pressure finally produced the opening goal of the night in added time of the first half. Winger Saif Rashid got on the end of a Coronado free-kick and guided his header into the bottom corner with what was essentially the last attack of the half.
Abdulaziz al-Anbari’s men started the second half as strongly as they finished the first. A swift counter-attacking move saw Welliton exchange passes with Caio down the left before breaking free and dribbling past the last defender in style and firing with his left into the roof of the net to double Sharjah’s lead four minutes after the restart.
Substitute Mohamed Abdulbasit, who replaced Rashid, made it 3-0 in the 54th minute. Coronado found Bawazir inside the box with a sublime pass behind the defence and the latter laid it back to Abdulbasit who drilled it past Cassio for Sharjah’s third of the night.
Al Taawoun’s misery was compounded just three minutes later, after their goalkeeper failed to properly control a back pass, allowing Welliton to snatch the ball and finish into the empty net for Sharjah’s fourth.
The Emiratis’ clinical counter-attacking display continued as they made it four goals in 12 minutes. Coronado sliced a cross from the corner into the near post where Welliton was perfectly positioned to head home for his hat-trick and Sharjah’s fifth in the 61st minute.
Caio Lucas added his name to the scoresheet in the 68th minute after Coronado cut inside and fired an effort that was saved by Cassio, only for it to fall into the path of Caio who guided the header past his compatriot and into the back of the net to round off the scoring.
Sharjah’s largest-ever win in the AFC Champions League means they can reach the Round of 16 for the first time in their history with a win against Persepolis in their last game, while Al Taawoun’s fate is now out of their hands. The Saudis need a win against Al Duhail and a draw between Sharjah and Persepolis to qualify.
Draw with Al Ain ends Sepahan’s Round of 16 hopes
Sepahan FC joined Al Ain FC in elimination from Group D of the 2020 AFC Champions League after the two sides played out a goalless draw at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium yesterday.
Sepahan had started their campaign with a 4-0 defeat of Al Ain at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium courtesy of Mohamed Mohebi, Kiros, Soroush Rafiei and Mohamed Tayyebi but couldn’t find a way past their opponents at the second time of asking.
Thirteen-time UAE champions Al Ain threatened early on, with Caio Canedo forcing a save from keeper Payam Niazmand after careful build up that included striker Kodjo Laba.
It took almost 40 minutes for Sepahan to get a first close chance, when Rasool Navidkia received the ball from teammate Mohamed Karimi and fired from range, but his ball was marginally high.
Early on in the second half, Tsukasa Shiotani played Canedo in with an intelligent through ball, and the Brazilian-born Emirati forward chipped the ball onto Laba Kodjo, who headed wide off the mark.
Al Ain almost conceded an own goal less than 10 minutes into the second half, when captain Ismail Ahmed botched a clearance attempt and deflected the ball towards his goal, but keeper Khaled Eissa managed to stop it, before punching the ball away from an onrushing Sepahan attacker.
A chance fell for the record UAE Pro League champions when a move started by Ahmed Barman was concluded when Bauyrzhan Islamkhan played teammate Laba in, and the latter attempted a cross that was deflected by Mohamed Mehdi into Niazmand’s arms.
Laba seemed to have opened the scoring when he rose to meet Islamkhan’s lofted free-kick into the area, but his headed effort was ruled out for an offside decision on teammate Caio.
The result leaves the Isfahan-based side in third with four points, one ahead of Al Ain who trail the group.
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