Leg 1 Recap – Saturday 12 February

Sriwijaya 2-2 Muang Thong United. aet (7-6 pens)

Saturday 12 February 2011, Palembang: Sriwijaya defeated Muang Thong United 7-6 on penalties following a 2-2 draw after extra time in a thrilling AFC Champions League East Zone playoff at Jakabaring Stadium.

The two sides shared one goal each in normal time and both scored another in extra time to ensure the encounter had to be settled by spot kicks.

There it was hosts Sriwijaya who came out on top, winning the shootout with Supardi converting the decisive effort after Weerawut Khayem’s penalty was saved by Ferry Rotinsulu.

Muang Thong were quick out of the blocks and forced Sriwijaya to defend in the first 20 minutes, with Pichitphong Choeichiu and Datsakorn Thonglao both having chances.

But Sriwijaya finally came to life when captain Keith Gumbs, who was surprisingly benched by coach Ivan Kolev, replaced Rudi Widodo in 36th minute.

Gumbs made an immediate impression and was distributing the ball all over the area and with the 38-year-old playing upfront, Ponaryo Astaman received more freedom to roam.

It was Ponaryo who sent a glorious long pass to free Arif Suyono just before the break and the Indonesia international delivered a perfect cross to Rendy Siregar, who connected with a volley that was superbly saved superbly by Muang Thong keeper Kawin Thamsatchanan.

But the hosts were not to be denied drawing first blood in the 49th minute when Gumbs’ free-kick took a deflection off a defender and went beyond Kawin’s reach.

Gumbs almost had a second in the 75th minute when he was sent through on goal but Kawin produced another fine save to keep his side in the game.

It was to prove a crucial intervention as the Thais equalised with nine minutes remaining when Datsakorn hit a wonderful curling free-kick into the back of the net.

Things took a turn for the worse minutes later though when Muang Thong were reduced to 10 men after Panupong Wongsa was shown his second yellow card for a foul on Gumbs, but the score-line remained the same after 90 minutes and the match went to extra time.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, Muang Thong went ahead in the 93rd minute after Teerasil Dangda sent a delightful lob over Rotinsulu.

It seemed like lady luck was not with Sriwijaya after series of wasted chances, but the Indonesian side finally pulled level after Thierry Gautessi connected to Budi Sudarsono’s 113th minute cross with a powerful header.

Sriwijaya had the chance to clinch the match after Ponaryo jinked past the keeper in the 124th minute but Gumbs failed to apply the finish and the match went to penalties.

Al Sadd 5-1 Al Ittihad

Saturday 12 February 2011, Doha: Qatari giants Al Sadd advanced to the second stage of the 2011 AFC Champions League West Zone play-offs after they eased to a 5-1 rout of last year’s AFC Cup winners Al Ittihad at Sheik Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium.

Al Sadd Players celebrating following their victory over Al Ittihad during the 1st Play-Off day on 12 February in Doha.

Côte d’Ivoire striker Abdul Kader Keita put the hosts ahead after 13 minutes before grabbing a second just before the half hour mark.

The goals continued to come as striker Leandro (Leandro Montera da Silva) made it 3-0 soon after before the Brazilian scored Al Sadd’s fourth and his second of the night after 66 minutes.

Majdi Siddiq added a fifth after 76 minutes while Al Ittihad scored a late consolation when Omar Hemidi converted from the spot.

Al Sadd looked hungry from the start and were quickly ahead when Keita powered home a header from a corner.

That early goal clearly instilled the Qatari side with confidence and they were soon 2-0 up when Yusef Ahmed launched a quick counter attack in the 29th minute before crossing for Leandro to head the ball on to Keita to fire home.

Al Ittihad were struggling to deal with their opponents and the game was over as a contest four minutes later when the lively Keita saw his shot smash against the upright but Leandro was on hand to stab home from close range.

The hosts continued to press in the following minutes and they nearly added a fourth goal five minutes before the break but Keita’s shot was saved by Al Ittihad goalkeeper Khaled Al Haji Othman, who then denied Leandro five minutes later.

Little changed after the half-time break and Al Sadd continued their onslaught, with the pressure telling again in the 66th minute as Leandro broke the offside trap to race onto Keita’s pass and slot a shot beyond Othman.

The final whistle clearly could not come quick enough for Al Ittihad as Al Sadd made it 5-0 with 14 minutes remaining as Siddiq broke into the area from the right and struck a powerful shot past the goalkeeper.

Al Ittihad managed to pull a goal back with nine minutes remaining when they were awarded a penalty after Talal Al Bloushi fouled Mohamad Fares inside the area and Hemidi successfully converted the spot kick.

The Syrians went on the attack in the last minutes of the game and they nearly added a second goal deep in stoppage time but Ahmad Haj Muhmad’s shot was pushed away by Al Sadd goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb.

Leg 2 Recap – Saturday 19 February

Sriwijaya 0-4 Al Ain

Saturday 19 February 2011, Palembang: Elias Ribeiro scored twice as Al Ain booked their place in the AFC Champions League with a comfortable 4-0 victory over Sriwijaya at Jaka Baring Stadiu.
The hosts were missing several key players due to injury and it told as Al Ain barely broke into a sweat with the Brazilian striker scoring either side of half time while Mohammed Haddaf and Omar Abdulrahman were also on the score-sheet.

Sriwijaya were up against it from the start and were forced to defend during the opening exchanges with the visitors in complete control and causing all sorts of problems with their pacey attacks.

Ibrahima Keita was the first to threaten with barely five minutes on the clock when his thunderous shot forced keeper Ferry Rotinsulu into his first save of the game.

Sriwijaya were struggling to get out of their own half and it came as no surprise when Al Ain opened the scoring after 14 minutes when a defence-splitting pass from Abdulrahman found Haddaf, who beat his marker before rounding the keeper and putting the ball into the net.

Sriwijaya tried to offer a quick response and they soon came close to restoring parity when they were awarded a free kick just outside the area but Keith Gumbs’ effort bounced back off the post.

Instead it was Al Ain who went further ahead in the 45th minute when Rotinsulu brought down Elias inside the area and the Brazilian picked himself up before confidently converting the spot kick.

The UAE club picked up where they had left off after the break and were awarded another penalty in the 51st minute. This time it was Ali Al Wehaibi who was tripped by Bobby Satria and Abdulrahman stepped up to effectively end the game as a contest.

Sriwijaya could not contain Elias and less than two minutes later he grabbed his second goal of the game in spectacular fashion when he broke the offside trap and met a long pass with a glorious volley that Rotinsulu could do nothing about.

Al Ain decided to take things easy after their fourth but Sriwijaya still found it hard to make impact inside the final third, with their best chance before the final whistle a 73rd minute free kick by Gumbs that flew over the bar.

Al Ain will play in Group F of the AFC Champions League along with FC Seoul, Hangzhou Greentown and Nagoya Grampus.

Al Sadd 2-0 Dempo

Saturday 19 February 2011, Doha: Al Sadd scored in each half to beat India’s Dempo SC 2-0 at Sheik Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium on Saturday and cement their place in the AFC Champions League.

The hosts opened the scoring through Abdul Kader Keita just after the half hour mark before second-half substitute Leandro sealed the win with one minute remaining.

The Qataris will play in Group B of the AFC Champions League with Al Nassr, Esteghlal and Pakhtakor.

Al Sadd’s dominance was clear right from the start of the game and they created the first chance of the night after only eight minutes when Ali Afif’s shot flew just wide of the Dempo goal.

But Dempo soon started to get into the game themselves and after 15 minutes they had their first chance when Soleye Ranti Martins made a good run before firing a powerful shot that was narrowly off target.

Al Sadd threatened four minutes later when Hasan Al Haydos struck a fierce effort from outside the area wide but went ahead in the 33rd minute when Cote d’Ivoire striker Keita headed home from Naser Nabeel’s cross.

Dempo, eager not to miss out on a place in the AFC Champions League for the second time in three years, went on the attack after that and came close to equalising six minutes before the break when a shot from Beto (Roberto Mendes da Silva) from the edge of the area was denied by Saad Al Sheeb.

But Dempo’s eagerness to attack was leaving them in danger of falling further behind and Al Sadd had another chance before the break when Majdi Siddiq cut a pass to Yusef Ahmed, whose shot was saved by Dempo goalkeeper Subhasish Roy.

Al Sadd started the second half strongly and went close in the 49th minute when Afif’s first-time shot went wide before Al Haydos’s effort was held by Roy.

Martins almost brought Dempo level though in the 53rd minute when he drilled an effort from the edge of the area but Al Sadd keeper Saad Al Sheeb did well to tip the ball over the crossbar.

Despite that chance it was Al Sadd who continued to dominate and nearly scored a second goal four minutes after the hour mark when Afif made his way into the right side of the area but his shot was pushed away by Roy for a corner.

But they finally wrapped up the victory a minute before time when Brazilian striker Leandro lofted a shot over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.