Group B: Kuwait SC 2-1 Al Najma
Kuwait City: Kuwait SC survived a late scare to secure a 2-1 win over Bahrain’s Al Najma at Kuwait Sport Club Stadium on Matchday Four of the 2019 AFC Cup Group B on Monday.
The two sides entered the match level on points, with four each. Kuwait SC held a relative advantage having secured a 1-0 win in the reverse fixture in Bahrain.
Kuwait SC’s first chance came before the 15-minute mark through Faisal Zayed who got on the end of an Abdullah Al Buraiki cross, but his header went inches wide off the post.
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Zayed came closer a few minutes later, sending his free-kick over the wall and down into the far corner, but goalkeeper Ahmed Rasool made the save.
The hosts’ dominant display finally bore fruit in the dying seconds of the first half.
Shaheen Al Khamees sent a long pass behind the Bahraini defence for Husain Yaqoub Husain who took advantage of a miscommunication between Rasool and the defence to collect the ball and slot into the empty net with what was the last kick of the half.
Coach Mohammad Ali’s Kuwait SC side picked up from where they left off after the restart, and within 15 minutes they had doubled their lead.
Radhi Al Azmi advanced down the left and supplied a defence-splitting pass for Jumaa Saeed. The Ivorian striker cut inside on his right foot and fired into the top corner to make it 2-0 at the hour-mark.
Finding themselves two goals down, Al Najma threw all their weight forward and their efforts resulted in a goal just six minutes later.
Ali Madan dispossessed a defender inside Kuwait SC’s half and found Hesham Nayem down the right. Nayem sent a cross into the far post where Mouhamadou Dramé was perfectly positioned to sweep home Al Najma’s first of the night.
Fathi Labidi’s side continued to push forward in pursuit of an equaliser but left plenty of space at the back that Kuwait SC looked to exploit time and again, but the hosts were let down by their own profligacy.
Kuwait SC would have been left to rue their missed chances as Nayem again delivered a pinpoint cross from the right, but Ali Muneer’s header in added time cannoned off the crossbar to the relief of the home crowd.
The result means the race for the top spot will be heated with two matchdays to go. Al Najma need to defeat Al Jazeera in Amman on April 30 if they are to keep their hopes alive, while Kuwait SC will have to overcome Al Ittihad on the same day to set up a potential decider against Al Jazeera on the final matchday.