Al Sadd's Bounedjah bags Top Scorer Award
Tehran: Baghdad Bounedjah has won the 2018 AFC Champions League top scorer award after the Algerian's 13 goals saw him finish ahead of Suwon Samsung Bluewings' Dejan Damjanovic and Al Duhail's Yousef El Arabi.
The Al Sadd forward matched the all-time single tournament record held by Muriqui who netted the same tally by the conclusion of Guangzhou Evergrande's 2013 campaign.
However, unlike Muriqui who lifted the continental title with the Chinese Super League side, with Al Sadd eliminated from the tournament in the semi-finals by Persepolis, Bounedjah's involvement in the 2018 AFC Champions League was brought to an end at the penultimate stage.
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But he remained on top of the scoring charts ahead of Saturday’s final between Persepolis and Kashima Antlers with Ali Alipour of the former and Serginho of the latter the closest active scorers – each on five goals prior to kick off – still eight goals behind Algerian.
Neither, though, could add to their tally. Persepolis and Kashima played out a goalless draw that saw the Japanese side crowned AFC Champions League winners with a 2-0 aggregate scoreline, and Bounedjah's 13 goals proved enough to confirm him as the top scorer.
Bounedjah scored his first goals of the 2018 AFC Champions League with a brace in Al Sadd's 2-1 Matchday One away at the United Arab Emirates’ Al Wasl, before netting a second double against Persepolis on Matchday Two.
The 26-year-old next netted in Al Sadd's Matchday Four win over Nasaf, before his third brace of the Group Stage against Al Wasl in the return meeting in Doha.
Al Sadd ultimately finished Group C as runners-up behind Persepolis with Boundedjah's ending the first stage of the AFC Champions League with seven goals from six matches.
And the knockout stage proved no barrier to the prolific North African.
Bounedjah bagged two goals against Saudi Arabia's Al Ahli in the Round of 16, with three more coming his way from the quarter-finals against Iranian giants Esteghlal.
However, the third meeting of the campaign against Persepolis in the semi-final first leg proved to be his and Al Sadd's undoing as they were blanked by the IR Iran side.
Despite adding his 13th of the tournament in the second leg to level the aggregate scores at 1-1, Siamak Nemati's 49th minute proved the winner for the hosts.
Bounedjah's impressive total, though, would not be beaten as the forward was confirmed the tournament’s leading scorer following Saturday’s final.