Al Sadd, club from Qatar with 9 players on the field held on for a draw against FC Nasaf, Uzbekistan’s club runner-up AFC Cup last season with a score 1-1 in the AFC Champions League 2022 group stage, Group E at Prince Mohamed bin Fahd Stadium, Dammam.
Semir Smajlagic’s tame shot after a quick break six minutes into the game and Akram Afif’s miscued attempt from inside the box six minutes later were the closest either side came to scoring in the early proceedings.
Al Sadd suffered a major setback midway through the first half as Abdelkarim Hassan was shown a straight red card after bringing down Shahzod Akramov just outside the box when he was clear on goal.
Marko Stanojevic sent a powerful low drive from the resulting free-kick, but goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham produced a diving save to keep the score level.
There was nothing Barsham could do a few minutes later when his teammate Pedro Miguel attempted to head away Sharof Mukhitdinov’s in-swinging corner kick, instead sending it into the back of his own net to further compound Al Sadd’s woes a minute after the half-hour mark.
Coach Javi Gracia’s men looked to regroup in the face of both a numerical and a one-goal disadvantage. Santi Cazorla came closest for the Qataris but his left-footed attempt after some fine footwork and cutback from Akram Afif was parried by goalkeeper Umid Ergashev just before the break.
The Qatar Stars League champions got what they were looking for 10 minutes after the restart when Boualem Khoukhi rose highest to head home Cazorla’s corner at the far post, bringing the scores level.
Just six minutes after equalising, Al Sadd had their work cut out for them as their other full-back, Pedro Miguel, received his marching orders for a second bookable offence.
Former Watford boss Gracia was left with little option but to defend with a two-man disadvantage, taking off Hassan Al Haydos and Ali Asad for defenders Mohammed Waad and Tarek Salman and his side were able to weather a late avalanche of Uzbek attacks, with Husain Norchayev and Oybek Bozorov coming closest in the final half of an hour.
Al Sadd could have snatched a win against all odds in the final minutes as Baghdad Bounedjah struck the woodwork with a half-volley from a tight angle.
match end at scored 1-1 divided a point each to start the campaign fro both teams.
Credit Photo : Abolfazl Amanollah/AFC