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Soccer-Late equaliser earns Al Sadd spot in Asian Champions League last 16

22 Sep 2020 / 09:48 H.

    Sept 22 (Reuters) - An equaliser from Baghdad Bounedjah two minutes from time earned Qatar's Al Sadd a 1-1 draw with Al Nassr in Doha on Monday which saw them progress to the last 16 of the Asian Champions League along with their Saudi opponents.

    Al Nassr secured their passage on Friday and a first-half Khalid Al-Ghannam goal had them on course to lock up top spot in Group D until Algerian striker Bounedjah curled the ball into the back of the net for the twice Asian champions.

    Any hopes Iran's Sepahan had of qualifying from Group D disappeared after they were unable to find the net in a 0-0 stalemate against bottom club Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates.

    Sharjah had no such problems and Brazilian striker Welliton scored a second-half hat-trick as they kept alive their hopes of a spot in the last 16 with a thumping 6-0 win over Al Taawoun that blew Group C wide open.

    Qatar's Al Duhail are the favourites to progress after their 1-0 win over Iran's Persepolis but all four teams will have a chance of grabbing one of the two spots in the knockout stages going into Friday's final round of matches.

    Sharjah had scored twice in the last 15 minutes for a comeback win over Al Duhail in their previous match and continued their late scoring exploits after a Saif Rashid header had given them a 1-0 halftime lead at Education City Stadium.

    Welliton scored the first of his three in the 49th minute with compatriot Caio and substitute Mohammed Abdulbasit also finding the target as the Emirati outfit ran riot at the stadium built for the 2022 World Cup.

    Prolific Qatar striker Almoez Ali, the leading scorer at the last Asian Cup, got Al Duhail back to winning ways with a confident finish from the penalty spot on the hour mark.

    Persepolis and Sharjah, who are locked together in second and third place on seven points, meet in Friday's first showdown before the group leaders Al Duhail (nine) take on Saudi bottom side Al Taawoun (six).

    The group stage of the western half of the continent's premier club competition resumed in Qatar last week after a seven-month coronavirus shutdown.

    Matches in the four East Asian groups resume in a hub in Malaysia in October. The final will be in Doha on Dec. 19. (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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