Doha: Bunyodkor coach Alexander Volkov lauded his players on Wednesday after they pulled of a last-ditch 2-1 win over Qatari side El Jaish at the Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium to qualify for the last 16 of the AFC Champions League.
Sardor Rashidov scored with virtually the last kick of the game as the Uzbek champions secured their place in the knockout stage of the AFC Champions League for the seventh year in a row.
“The win is really important and our players showed great fighting spirit as they held on to their chances until the last minutes of the match which helped us to score a great winning goal in the last seconds,” said Volkov.
“Before the match, I told the players that we must hold on to our chances until the end. We put some pressure on our opponents at different periods of the match and we took advantage of the defensive mistakes of our opponents.”
El Jaish only needed a draw to progress to the last 16 and they seemed to have achieved their target after Mohammad Muntari struck early in the second half to cancel out Sergii Symonenko’s early goal.
But Rashidov’s late volley ensured that they will not be taking any further part in this season’s competition.
“I’m really disappointed with this defeat as it came in the last seconds of the match and that cost us the ticket to the knockout stage of the competition,” said El Jaish coach Nabil Maaloul.
“The players were tired and they lost concentration in the last minutes of the match which led to this result.”
“We were seconds away from qualifying from the group but this is football where mistakes are part of the game. We played decisive and important matches recently and this affected us as the players were completely tired.”
Sydney: FC Seoul coach Choi Yong-soo blamed crucial lapses in concentration as FC Seoul lost Wednesday's AFC Champions League semi-final second leg 2-0 to Western Sydney Wanderers to miss out on a second consecutive final appearance.
Former finalist Eugene Galekovic has hailed Western Sydney Wanderers for becoming the second Australian side to reach the AFC Champions League final ahead of Saturday's first leg, although the veteran goalkeeper is amazed by the speed in which the A-League's newest side have followed up Adelaide United's 2008 achievement.
Kuala Lumpur: Both Al Hilal and Western Sydney Wanderers were beaten in their repsective leagues over the weekend, dealing the duo a potentially damaging psychological blow ahead of next Saturday's AFC Champions League final first leg encounter in Australia.