Almoez Ali has called on Al Duhail SC to remain focused after the Qatar champions defeated Persepolis FC to jump to the top of Group C of the 2020 AFC Champions League on Monday.
It was a result Al Duhail badly needed after suffering a 4-2 defeat to Sharjah on Matchday Four and they bounced back in style against Iran’s Persepolis, who had gone into the tie at the Education City Stadium as group leaders.
Ali scored the only goal of the match from the penalty spot in the 56th minute for his third goal of the competition as Al Duhail moved to nine points, two ahead of Persepolis and UAE’s Sharjah, who defeated Saudi Arabia’s Al Taawoun 6-0 in the group’s other tie on Monday.
Ali, while pleased with the win, said Al Duhail have to remain grounded as they still have to play Al Taawoun where a draw will seal them a knockout stage spot and a win will see them emerging group winners.
“We played well today, which was great after our performance against Sharjah. We managed to recover some of our level but we still have some work to do in order to get to 100 percent,” said the 24-year-old Al Duhail captain.
“We could have achieved a better result but at the end of the day, the three points are really important for us.
“The next match will be harder and we must avoid being overconfident, as was the case against Sharjah. We must forget today’s win and prepare for Al Taawoun who are a good side.
“They defeated us previously (2-0 on Matchday Two) in Saudi Arabia and we must be fully focused in order to have a positive result and bring joy to our fans.”
Al Duhail SC goalkeeper Mohamed al-Bakri was ecstatic with the win, as he marked his AFC Champions League debut with a clean sheet.
“The players gave their best today and we got three important points,” said al-Bakri. “However, it isn’t over yet as we still have a match and we will go into it to get another victory.”
Persepolis midfielder Bashar Resan said Al Duhail’s experience and desire to bounce back from their defeat against Sharjah propelled them to victory.
“It was a difficult match for us because Al Duhail were eager to make a comeback after losing the previous match,” said the Iraqi midfielder. “The experience of their players made the difference because they knew how to deal with the situations in the match.
“We missed several chances but we still have a match to play and hopefully we can win in order to advance from the group.”
Al Sadd struggled physically against Al Nassr: Bounedjah
Baghdad Bounedjah admitted Al Sadd SC struggled as they laboured to a 1-1 draw against Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr in their 2020 AFC Champions League Group D match on Monday.
The Algerian international salvaged a point for Al Sadd with three minutes left on the clock, cancelling out Khalid al-Ghannam’s lead for Al Nassr on 22 minutes.
With Sepahan having to settle for a 0-0 draw with Al Ain in Monday’s late match, the result saw Al Sadd joining Al Nassr in the Round of 16 from Group D.
“The match was very hard for us and we didn’t have good concentration in the first half,” said Bounedjah. “Al Nassr were better than us physically and they controlled the match.
“Our team played three consecutive matches while Al Nassr were able to rest players as they didn’t have any pressure having already secured their place in the knockout stage.
“We were not ready physically but we managed to get a point from the match in the dying minutes. I respect Al Nassr who were better than us and they could have won the match,” added the forward who took his tournament tally to four goals.
Tarek Salman said defensive mistakes affected Al Sadd’s performance.
“We were bad in the first half as we made many defensive mistakes and there was no balance in the team,” said the defender.
“In the second half we improved and we created several scoring chances. Still a point is better than nothing but hopefully, we can fix the mistakes ahead of the next match.”
Al Nassr defender Maicon paid tribute to his new teammates who featured in the match although admitting Al Sadd’s equaliser ruined their night.
“We had the upper hand and the match was nearly perfect for us,” said the Brazilian Man of the Match. “However, the equaliser came in a difficult time.
“Today we fielded six new players who showed their ability in such a difficult match. It is very difficult to play a match every three days but everything is excellent in the competition, especially in such difficult football conditions throughout the world.”
Midfielder Awad Khamis was one of the new players given a chance by Al Nassr head coach Rui Vitoria and he said a point from the match was still good considering the circumstances.
“I want to thank my teammates for their excellent performance. The coach gave the chance to new players and we showed that there is no difference between the regulars and reserves.
“Al Sadd put a lot of pressure on our team in the last minutes but we managed to hold on.”
Matchday Six will see Al Sadd face Sepahan while Al Nassr will face Al Ain.
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