Doha: First-half goals from Sebastian Soria and Youssef Msakni secured Qatar champions Lekhwiya a 2-1 comeback victory over AFC Champions League play-off winners Shabab Al Arabi at Lekhwiya Sports Stadium on Tuesday.
Edgar’s early opener had put UAE Pro League sideShabab Al Arabi, who beat Iran’s Sabaye Qom on penalties earlier this month to earn a place in the group stage for a second consecutive season, on course to spoil Lekhwiya’snight at their new home.
But after Qatar international Soria pulled Lekhwiya level, a free-kick from Tunisia forward Msakni 12 minutes before the break ultimately proved the difference in the Group B opener as Lekhwiya followed up last year’s opening day success over eventual finalists Al Ahli.
“The win tonight was not easy as our opponents were strong and the three points are really important,” saidLekhwiya coach Eric Gerets.
“It is very important to have a winning start in the competition, especially against a team who haven’t lost in any of their last eight matches.
“In the second half our performance improved and the players fought to get the victory and we achieved what we were looking for.
“We were unlucky not to score from the chances that we had while Al Shabab Al Arabi also caused some problems for us.”
Having won their play-off in Iran, Al Shabab Al Arabi enjoyed more success on their travels as Brazilian striker Edgar (Edgar Bruno da Silva) turned home AzizbekHaydarov’s cross at the second attempt after just 11 minutes after the initial chested effort had been saved by Lekhwiya goalkeeper Baba Malick.
Lekhwiya, though, responded just nine minutes later with Soria on hand to turn home an inviting cross from Senegalese midfielder Issiar Dia.
And the home side completed the comeback 12 minutes before half-time when a free-kick from Tunisia international Msakni beat Shabab Al Arabi goalkeeperSalim Al Hammadi via the upright.
Al Shabab Al Arabi pressed for an equaliser in the second half but Lekhwiya remained resolute in defence with the home content to rely on counterattack to relieve the pressure.
“The two teams played a good match as it was an open game and both sides were looking to score goals. We have some opportunities but we failed to score and this eventually has cost us the match,” said Al Shabab Al Arabi coach Marcos Paqueta.
“Despite the defeat, I’m satisfied with the performance of the team. We still have a chance despite the defeat, but we must fix the mistakes we made if we want to advance to the knockout stage.”
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