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Gomis strikes as Al Hilal down Qatari champions Al Duhail

Doha (AFP) – Bafetimbi Gomis and Sebastian Giovinco starred as Saudi giants Al Hilal grabbed a 3-1 victory over Qatari champions Al Duhail to take top spot in Group C of the AFC Champions League on Tuesday.

Al Duhail’s new signing Shoya Nakajima’s 75th-minute strike had cancelled out a first-half Carlos Eduardo goal, but Ali al-Bulayhi put the hosts ahead again in the 77th minute, chesting the ball over the line from Italy international Giovinco’s corner at the King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh.

Rui Faria’s men barely had time to regroup before former Lyon and Swansea City striker Gomis made it 3-1 in the 79th minute, rounding goalkeeper Amine Lecomte and firing into the roof of the net after a pass from Salem al-Dawsari.

The win gave two-time champions Al Hilal top spot in the group with six points, following their opening victory over the UAE’s Al Ain 1-0 last week.

In Group D, Al Sadd pipped Iran’s Persepolis 1-0 for their first victory with Baghdad Bounedjah scoring a dramatic winner five minutes into injury time.

Al Sadd dominated proceedings but poor finishing let them down at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium before last year’s top scorer Bounedjah came to the hosts’ rescue.

The Algerian striker, who had a goal disallowed for offside earlier in the game, rose above the defence to nod home after Abdelkarim Hassan had headed the ball in his direction following a free-kick.

The victory helped 2011 champions Al Sadd get back on track after they were beaten by Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli 2-0 in the opening week.

Al Ahli, meanwhile fell to a 1-0 defeat by Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor in Tashkent, with Marat Bikmaev scoring the winner with a fine free-kick in the 62nd minute.

Pakhtakor took top spot in Group D with four points, having drawn their first match against Persepolis.

Iran’s Esteghlal and Al Ain played out a 1-1 draw earlier on Tuesday.

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