Al-Sadd had to settle for a point in their opening game of the AFC Champions League 2021, after drawing 1-1 with Iranian side Foolad in their Group D fixture that was played at the King Fahd International Stadium on Wednesday. Chimba scored for Foolad in the 61st minute, and Khoukhi Boualem struck the equaliser in the 89th minute.
The Wolves began the game strongly and threatened Foolad’s goal early on. Abdelkarim Hassan struck a powerful effort from the edge of the box in the 9th minute but it got deflected out for a corner. This was followed by a cross by Hassan Al-Haydos from the right, which was received by Nam Tae-hee, whose shot went over the crossbar.
Throughout the first half, Al-Sadd pressed for the opening goal but found it difficult against the Foolad backline. In the 42nd minute, Abdelkarim sent another powerful shot at goal from outside the penalty box, but this time too, it got deflected out.
At the start of the second half, Xavi made his first substitution, replacing Salem Al-Hajri with Ali Asad, to strengthen the attack. Ali got into the act quickly and fashioned a dangerous chance when he delivered a cross aimed at Bounedjah. The Algerian striker headed the ball towards goal, but the Foolad keeper was able to save it before Al-Haydos could get to it.
In the 61st minute, Foolad struck a blow for Al-Sadd with the opening goal of the game. A cross from the left deflected off Khoukhi and then fell right towards Foolad captain Chimba, who headed in past Meshaal Barsham to give his side the lead.
As Al-Sadd looked to reply, Xavi sent on Yousuf Abdurisag in place of Al-Haydos. In his first involvement, Yousuf sent in a cross aimed at Cazorla but the ball fell to Bounedjah, who was deemed offside, and a good chance was wasted.
Khoukhi then had a go from a free-kick almost thirty yards out, but his powerful effort was tipped over the bar by the keeper. The Al-Sadd star had another chance in the 89th minute, and this time, he managed to score. Ali Asad delivered a ball towards the box, which was edged by Bounedjah towards Khoukhi, who swung his foot at it and saw it go in with a slight deflection off Yousuf.
In the dying moments of the game, substitute Mohammed Waad had a blistering volley somehow kept out by an acrobatic save by the keeper. It could have been a dramatic winner for Al-Sadd, but in the end, the game finished in a 1-1 stalemate.
Al-Sadd x Foolad (AFC Champions League 2021 Group D – Matchday One)
King Fahd International Stadium
Al-Sadd: Meshaal Barsham, Pedro Miguel, Abdelkarim Hassan, Nam Tae-hee (Hashim Ali), Hassan Al Haydos (Yousuf Abdurisag), Baghdad Bounedjah, Rodrigo Tabata (Mohammed Waad), Guilherme, Boualem Khoukhi, Santi Cazorla, Salem Al Hajri (Ali Asad)
Foolad: Saleh Hardani Kherad, Mohammad Zobeir Niknafs, Farshad Ahmadzadeh, Ayanda Patosi , Mohammad Abshak, Seyedmehran Mousavi, Aref Aghasi, Mehran Derakhshanfar, Chimba, Sasan Ansari, Mohsen Forouzan
Khoukhi Boualem 89′
Sasan Ansari 40′
Farshad Ahmadzadeh 55′
Main referee: Masoud Tufaylieh (Syria)
Assistant referee: Mazen Ahmed (Syria)
Assistant referee: Abbas Ahmed (Kuwait)
Fourth official: Ali Shabaan (Kuwait)