Asian Champions League: Al Shabab finally taste defeat

Dubai scored first in Qatar but the home side came back to defeat Al Shabab for the first time in 13 matches.

Lekhwiya's Sebastian Soria celebrates after scoring against Al Shabab. Fadi Al Assaad / Reuters
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Lekhwiya 2 Al Shabab 1
Lekhwiya: Soria 20', Msakni 32'
Al Shabab: Bruno 11'

Al Shabab will no doubt regret the halting last night of their recent invincibility, however they should seek solace in a fine debut to this season's Asian Champions League.

Marcos Paqueta's men, unbeaten in 13 matches, contested on the continent for the first time this year, opening their account with a dogged defeat to Lekhwiya in Doha.

The hosts enjoy an exalted status in these surroundings, a standing granted by successive Qatari championships, yet a clash between two of the region's thriving teams - Lekhwiya had not been beaten in seven - illustrated there indeed exists no gulf in class.

For the most part, Shabab gave as good as they got. In fact, the Dubai club were the first to draw blood, Edgar Bruno continuing the fine form that has elevated him among his most prolific peers in the UAE Pro League.

The Brazilian, with 16 goals already this season, took two attempts to bundle home Ciel's free kick on 11 minutes, although Baba Malick, the Lekhwiya goalkeeper, would be disappointed not to have held the first effort.

Shabab's superiority was short-lived, though, as Sebastian Soria, the ever dangerous striker, connected with Issiar Dia's cross to stroke past Salem Abdulla in the visiting goal.

Soria was merely an interested spectator when Lekhwiya took the lead just after the half-hour. The home side were awarded a free kick on the left flank, which Youssef Msakni then curled towards the Shabab penalty area. The set piece evaded everyone, including Abdulla, and rebounded off a post before nestling in the visitors' net.

Shabab threatened intermittently in the second half, although it was Lekhwiya who seemed most capable of increasing their advantage.

Dia, Ismail Mohammed and Msakni were each guilty of failing to convert decent chances as they convinced Shabab to press for an equaliser.

Bruno had earlier spurned a clear opportunity, the powerful forward somehow lifting his close-range effort over the crossbar with the goal at his mercy.

As the encounter drifted towards its conclusion, Shabab would be gifted one final attempt to restore parity.

The ball ricocheted through a posse of Lekhwiya defenders on the edge of the area and found its way to Essa Obaid, who could only scuff his shot wide from a tight angle.

The winger threw his head in his hands, but the visitors can return home with heads held high.

Yes, their unbeaten run has ended, but there is plenty of promise for an extended excursion in Asia.

Man of the match: Issiar Dia (Lekhwiya)

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