Al Sadd head coach Javi Gracia lauded his side’s second-half display as they came from 2-1 down at halftime to defeat Al Wehdat 5-2 in Group E of the AFC Champions League 2022 on Friday.
Akram Afif had given Al Sadd the lead from the penalty spot midway through the first, but two goals in quick succession from Ahmed Sameer and Mohamed Anas sent Al Wehdat into the dressing rooms with the advantage.
Gracia’s men came back from the break a different side, dominating and cruising past their opponents. Santi Cazorla’s powerful strike brought them level, Andre Ayew headed home the third before substitutes Rodrigo Tabata and Mohamed Waad added their name to the scoresheet to complete the rout.
“I’m very happy with the game because we needed a win and we did many things well,” said Gracia. “In the last two games we were close, but we only took one point from two games. Today in the second half we played much better and scored the chances that we did not score in the first two games and the first half. This is our game. We saw in the second half what the fans, the players and everyone wants to see from Al Sadd for the whole competition.”
The big victory was achieved without AFC Champions League 2018 top scorer Baghdad Bounedjah as Gracia opted for the foreign trio of Ayew, Guilherme and Cazorla alongside Korean defender Jung Woo-young in the AFC Player spot.
“I’m happy with my players. The rules are the rules and I have to choose four players. The other game Andre Ayew was out, today Baghdad Bounedjah is out, so I have to choose, and we got the result, so I prefer to focus on the players that played,” Gracia said.
Meanwhile, forward Akram Afif said it wasn’t an easy game and Al Sadd really needed the three points. “The match was like life or death for us. We played a special match against a strong and organised team. The match was not easy. We were not in a hurry and our focus in the second half gave us the victory. We had a big hope of winning and we desperately needed the three points,” he said.
After a bright start to the game, Al Wehdat capitulated, losing their lead and falling to their heaviest AFC Champions League defeat. This term, five of the eight goals Al Wehdat conceded came in the final half-hour, and coach Ra’ed Assaf lamented his side’s physical condition for it.
“We played well in the first half and were leading at the break, but a combination of fatigue and Al Sadd’s experience made the difference,” said Assaf.

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