Al Jazira prove no match for Lekhwiya as Asian Champions League opener ends in 3-0 defeat for AGL leaders
El Arabi 11’, 90’, Msakni 80’
Al Jazira 0
Al Jazira’s dismal record in the Asian Champions League continued after a 3-0 defeat to Lekhwiya in their Group B opener at the Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium in Doha on Monday night.
Al Jazira were thoroughly outplayed by the Qataris, who enjoyed 59 per cent possession, as they were condemned to their ninth defeat in the past 10 Champions League games.
Youssef El Arabi scored in the 11th minute and again in the opening minute of added time, his goals sandwiching Youssef Msakni’s 80th-minute strike, as the home team played brilliantly on the counter.
In fact Lekhwiya’s first goal came courtesy of a brilliant run and cross from Msakni, with the waiting El Arabi lunging forward to head the ball into the bottom right corner of the net.
An unmarked Msakni was the beneficiary the next time round as Nam Tae-hee slipped a pass to the Tunisian winger, who then rounded Jazira defender Salim Rashid and dispatched the ball past keeper Ali Khaseif to make it 2-0.
El Arabi was on target again with an easy tap-in from space created by substitute Ali Afif in the dying moments of the game to complete the rout.
It could have been worse for Al Jazira had it not been for some good work by Khaseif. He blocked a close-range shot from Ismail Mohamed, stopped another from Msakni and denied a strike from Nam that nearly went over the goalline.
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Al Jazira travelled to the Qatari capital with the stated intention of making a good impression in their first game, but their priority seems to be winning the Arabian Gulf League title.
Keeping that in mind, manager Henk ten Cate left out winger Leonardo, who moved to the capital only a few months after leading South Korean side Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors to the continental title.
Leonardo scored 10 goals in 14 games in the competition last season, and Ten Cate said the Brazilian was close to “breaking down physically”.
Jazira have a nine-point lead at the top of the domestic table, with seven games left to play, but could face second-placed Al Ahli in a virtual final in 12 days’ time.
It will, therefore, be interesting to see how Ten Cate approaches their next Champions League game – away to Iranian side Esteghlal Khouzestan – in a week’s time.
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Published: February 20, 2017 04:00 AM