Al-Sadd fell to a 1-2 defeat to Sepahan in their final group game of the 2020 AFC Champions League, which was played on Wednesday at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium.
Reza Mirzaei’s 14th minute goal gave Sepahan a 1-0 lead at halftime, and they went on to double their advantage in the 53rd minute through Sajad Shabazzadeh. Hashim Ali pulled a goal back for Al-Sadd in the 82nd minute.
The result means that Al-Sadd finish with a tally of 9 points as runners-up of Group D, two points behind leaders Al-Nassr. Having already qualified for the Round of 16 prior to this game, Xavi made 10 changes to the lineup that started against Al-Nassr on Matchday 5.
The match got off to a calm start, with no real chances for either side
In the 14th minute, Sepahan went ahead through Mirzaei, who took advantage of Al-Sadd’s failure to clear the ball. He controlled the ball and got past Tarek Salman, before finishing with a low striker past Meshaal Barsham.
Sepahan went on to control the game against the mostly youthful Al-Sadd side, but Rodrigo Tabata did have a chance to equalise in the 38th minute. However, his shot from just outside the box went wide and hit the side netting.
Xavi made his first substitution at halftime, bringing on Abdelkarim Hassan in place of Tarek Salman.
In the 53rd minute, Sepahan managed to score once again, doubling their lead through Shahbazzadeh who finished off a rebound after Meshaal Barsham had parried a shot into his path.
Al-Sadd then made another change, bringing on Khoukhi Boualem in place of Mohammed Waad in the 61st minute. Tabata got a golden opportunity to score in the 73rd minute, when Musaab Khidir sent in a teasing cross but his close-range header was remarkably saved and held between the Sepahan keeper’s feet.
Finally, a goal did come for Al-Sadd, when Hashim Ali scored in the 82nd minute. Yusuf Abdurisag pounced on a weak back-pass in the Sepahan box, before squaring it for Hashim to tap into an empty net.
In stoppage time, there was an opportunity to equalise but Khoukhi’s header was kept out by a Sepahan defender on the goal-line.
The referee then blew his whistle to signal the end of the game, as Al-Sadd suffered their first defeat of the competition.
Sepahan x Al-Sadd (AFC Champions League 2020 Group D – Matchday 6)
Jassim bin Hamad Stadium
Al-Sadd: Meshaal Barsham, Ahmed Sayyar, Tarek Salman (Abdelkarim Hassan), Mohammed Waad (Khoukhi Boualem), Bahaa Mamdouh, Rodrigo Tabata, Hashim Ali, Yusuf Abdurisag, Ahmed Suhail, Musaab Khidir, Hussam Kamal
Sepahan: Payam Niazmand, Mehdi Kiani, Sajjad Shahbazzadeh, Mohsen Mosalman (Seyed Mohammad Karimi), Muhsen Al Ghassani (Mohammad Mohebbi), Reza Mirzaei (Reza Dehghani), Omid Noorafkan, Giorgi Gvelesiani, Mohammad Nejad Mehdi, Soroosh Rafiei (Hamed Bahiraei), Daniel Esmaeilifar
Sepahan won 2-1
Reza Mirzaei 14′
Sajad Shabazzadeh 53′
Hashim Ali 82′
Hussam Kamal 29′
Sajad Shahbazzadeh 84′
S. Pu-udom (Main referee)
R. Nakrit (Assistant referee 1)
T. Chuchuen (Assistant referee 2)
H. Dilan Perera (Fourth official)