Unstoppable Bounedjah powers Al Sadd to second straight win

Doha (AFP) – Baghdad Bounedjah continued his spectacular comeback from a near three-month injury layoff to power Al Sadd to their second straight victory in the AFC Champions League on Tuesday.

The Algerian striker, who scored a brace in Al Sadd’s 2-1 win over the UAE’s Al Wasl last week, was twice on target again as the 2011 champions saw off Iran’s Persepolis 3-1 at the Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Stadium in Doha.

Bounedjah was injured in late November last year during a Qatar Stars League match, but has scored in every match he has played since his return earlier this month, underlining his value for his club, who Tuesday were playing their first continental match on their home ground in three years.

Al Sadd went on the attack right from the start with Xavi, Akram Afif and Bounedjah creating problems for the Persepolis defence which somehow managed to hold them off in the first 30 minutes.

However, Persepolis succumbed to sustained pressure in the 36th minute when Bounedjah rose high to head in the ball following an Afif pass.

Persepolis hardly had a shot on target in the first half and they failed to make amends as Bounedjah put away a smart Xavi assist in the 51st minute.

Persepolis’ misery was complete when Boualem Khokhi scored with a powerful shot in the 66th minute from Ali Asadalla’s cutback, who was just a few yards away from goal but decided against shooting himself as he was confronted with a tight angle.

The Iranians scored a consolation goal in added time with Siamak Nemati scoring with the last kick of the match.

Also in Group C, Al Wasl suffered their second straight defeat when they fell to Uzbekistan’s Nasaf 1-0, with Russian Igor Golban on target.

In Group D, Saudi giants Al Hilal had a day to forget when Abdullah al-Hafith scored an own goal to hand Iran’s Etheghlal an upset win in Seeb, Oman.

Al-Hafith deflected a Mame Thiam shot to wrongfoot goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi just seconds after the restart as the Saudi giants slumped to the bottom of the table with one point from two matches.

Meanwhile in Group D, Qatar’s Al Rayyan snatched a creditable 1-1 draw against 2003 winners Al Ain.

In East Zone action, 2016 winners Jeonbuk Motors thrashed Hong Kong’s Kitchee 6-0 with Brazilian Adriano grabbing a hat-trick, aided by two penalties.

Kim Jin-su, Tiago Alves and Lee Dong-gook also scored for the Korean side’s second win in Group E, which saw five goals coming in the first half.

Also in Group E, former Chelsea and AC Milan star Alexandre Pato struck late in the 88th minute to help China’s Tianjin Quanjian clinch a 1-1 draw against Japan’s Kashiwa Reysol.

Earlier, Cristiano had struck in the 52nd minute to put Kashiwa in front.

Top Chinese side Shanghai SIPG also won big in Group F, thrashing Melbourne Victory 4-1 with former Chelsea player Oscar scoring twice in the second half after Hulk and Wu Lei had given them a two-goal lead earlier.

South Korea’s Ulsan rallied from a goal down to beat Japanese champions Kawasaki Frontale 2-1, also in Group F.

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