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Qatari teams score double wins over Iranian stars in Asian Champions League Open in fullscreen

Uri Levy

Qatari teams score double wins over Iranian stars in Asian Champions League

Al Sadd returned to action in the Asian Champions League this week [Getty]

Date of publication: 29 August, 2018

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The Asian Champions League has returned to action after a long break, and this week has been all about the Qatari teams...
The Asian Champions League has finally returned to action after a long break, and this week has been all about the Qatari teams.

Al-Sadd and Al-Duhail both played against Iranian teams - Tehran giants Esteghlal and Persepolis, respectively - and got great results ahead of the second leg that will take place in September. 

The quarter-finals of the tournament are still played in a zonal format, which means that the West Asian teams that remain in the cup are set to play each other, with the winner to play the winners of the ASEAN - Central and East Asian - zone.

This week, two Middle Eastern mega-clashes kicked off, involving the cream of club football in the region.

It started on Monday, when Al-Sadd went to Tehran to play Esteghlal at the Azadi Stadium.

The Persians were first on the scoreboard, but only from a poor own goal by the Qatari goalkeeper Meshaal Bersham. But just as it looked like a lost cause for Xavi Hernandez and his teammates, Algerian striker Baghdad Bonedjah took the game by the scruff of the neck in the second half.

An assist from Bonedjah set up Akram Afif to level the score. That was followed by a startling brace from Bonedjah, all in 15 minutes, helped the Qataris to gain a tremendous 3-1 away victory ahead of the second leg.

Both sides will now meet again in the return encounter at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium on 17 September, with Al Sadd in pole position to advance to the final four.

In the other match on this side of the draw, Persepolis, the Iranian champions, are one of the strongest teams in the Middle East - and have been considered a strong favourite to go all the way this year. The Iranians went to Doha and played Al-Duhail, the club formed from Lekhiwya and El-Jaish, two former Qatari top clubs, who united in order to create a mega-Qatari club that could compete at the highest continental levels.

They did well last season in the domestic league with a great squad, winning a championship title, a Qatari cup, and the Emir's Cup.

Facing Persepolis, the Qatari champions were aiming to add to their eight-match winning streak in the tournament - and they did.

Al-Duhail got on the score sheet when Almoez Ali headed home a cross from Edmilson Junior just 15 minutes into the match, and looked solid and stable from there on. There were a few chances in the second half, but neither side could find the net.

With the 1-0 win, Al-Duhail bring a slim lead to the return leg, which also takes place on September 17, this time at a full and noisy Azadi Stadium in Tehran.

Uri Levy runs the popular football blog BabaGol, which covers football and politics focusing on the Middle East. Follow him on Twitter, and read his blog here

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