13 Mar 2018 - 0:58
Al Duhail reach knockout stage
By Rizwan Rehmat / The Peninsula
TASHKENT: High-scoring striker Youssef El Arabi yesterday produced two goals in injury time to power QNB Stars League champions Al Duhail into the knockout stage of the AFC Champions League with a feisty 2-1 win over hosts Lokomotiv Tashkent.
El Arabi first converted a penalty kick by firing to the left of goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov (90 +1) and then dribbled past two defenders to flick the ball home following goallmouth action at Lokomotiv Stadium.
For Lokomotiv, former Doha-based Sardor Rashidov scored the goal for the home team in the 35th minute.
It was Al Duhail’s fourth consecutive Group B win following last week’s 3-2 victory over the same rivals in Doha. Coached by Djamel Belmadi, Al Duhail last Friday sealed the QNB Stars League title, completing a memorable performance over the course of seven months.
Al Duhail striker Ismail Mohammed, who was brought in late in the first half, said: “It’s a great win. It was a team effort. Our target was to reach the round of 16 and we have done that. We are very happy. We fought right until the end of the game. That’s what we wanted to do. This team has great fighting ability.”
Home side Lokomotiv opened the scoring when Uzbekistan international Rashdidov - after getting a cross from Shukhrat Mukhammadiev - sent the ball into the net with a left-footed drive to suggest a win for the hosts.
After further exchanges, both teams walked off the pitch with hosts Lokomotiv enjoying a slight 1-0 advantage. It could have been worse for the visitors had it not been for the agility of Al Duhail goalkeeper Amine Lecomte who produced a few timely saves in the first 45 minutes.
In the second half, Lokomotiv spent more time on defending their slender lead as Al Duhail went on the offensive. However, Al Duhail found the going tough as the backline of Lokomotiv resisted the attacking game of the visitors with rough defending.
However, just as the home side thought they had the match in their bag, the visitors were awarded a penalty when Qatar national team’s U-23 star Almoez Ali was brought down by Salim Mustafoev in his own box. El Arabi calmly stepped up and converted the spot-kick by going left of the goalkeeper. It was El Erabi’s fifth goal of the AFC Champions League campaign.
But there was more to come from El Arabi. Four minutes into injury time, the 31-year-old striker deceived his marker and another Lokomotiv defender to send the ball past goalkeeper Nesterov with a well-placed flick into the net.
Yesterday’s result has secured Al Duhail their spot in the round of 16. In their next clash, Al Duhail take on Zobahan in Isfahan while Lokomotiv travel to Abu Dhabi to face Al Wahda.