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Bounedjah: Al Sadd struggled physically against Al Nassr in crucial AFC Champions League tie

Doha: Forward Baghdad Bounedjah admitted Al Sadd SC struggled as they laboured to a 1-1 draw against Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr in their 2020 AFC Champions League Group D match on Monday.

The Algerian international salvaged a point for Al Sadd with three minutes left on the clock, cancelling out Khalid Al Ghannam's lead for Al Nassr on 22 minutes.

With Sepahan having to settle for a 0-0 draw with Al Ain in Monday's late match, the result saw Al Sadd joining Al Nassr in the Round of 16 from Group D.

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“The match was very hard for us and we didn’t have good concentration in the first half,” said Bounedjah. “Al Nassr were better than us physically and they controlled the match.

“Our team played three consecutive matches while Al Nassr were able to rest players as they didn’t have any pressure having already secured their place in the knockout stage.

“We were not ready physically but we managed to get a point from the match in the dying minutes. I respect Al Nassr who were better than us and they could have won the match," added the forward who took his tournament tally to four goals.

Group D - MD5: Al Sadd SC 1-1 Al Nassr

Tarek Salman defensive mistakes affected Al Sadd's performance.

“We were bad in the first half as we made many defensive mistakes and there was no balance in the team," said the defender.

“In the second half we improved and we created several scoring chances. Still a point is better than nothing but hopefully, we can fix the mistakes ahead of the next match.”

Defender Maicon paid tribute to the new Al Nassr players who featured in the match although admitting Al Sadd 's equaliser ruined their night.

“We had the upper hand and the match was nearly perfect for us,” said the Brazilian Man of the Match. “However, the equaliser came in a difficult time.

“Today we fielded six new players who showed their ability in such a difficult match. It is very difficult to play a match every three days but everything is excellent in the competition, especially in such difficult football conditions throughout the world.”

Midfielder Awad Khamis was one of the new players given a chance by Al Nassr head coach Rui Vitoria and he said a point from the match was still good considering the circumstances.

“I want to thank my teammates for their excellent performance. The coach gave the chance to new players and we showed that there is no difference between the regulars and reserves.

“Al Sadd put a lot of pressure on our team in the last minutes but we managed to hold on.”

Matchday Six will see Al Sadd face Sepahan while Al Nassr will face Al Ain.

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