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Group E: Al Wahda fight back to defeat Al Rayyan in AFC Champions League classic


Goa: Al Wahda FSCC’s Fares Jumaa headed in with the final touch of the game to secure a dramatic 3-2 come-from-behind win for Henk ten Cate’s side over Qatar’s Al Rayyan on Tuesday in Group E of the 2021 AFC Champions League at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

The experienced central defender rose to meet Abdulla Al Karbi’s cross from the right for the club from the United Arab Emirates, who scored three times in the final 24 minutes to overturn a two-goal deficit and pick up their first win of the campaign.

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The game had looked destined to end in a draw after Khalil Ibrahim latched on to Tim Matavz’s through ball to score after Maayed Al Ruwais had earlier halved the deficit for Al Wahda with Shoja Khalilzadeh and Abdelaziz Hatem having given Al Rayyan a two-goal cushion.

But the win means Al Wahda move onto four points from their first three games while Al Rayyan remain on one point, with the two teams due to meet again on Friday.

Al Rayyan had looked set to take their first win of the campaign after opening up a two-goal lead with a dominant display throughout the opening 60 minutes.

Al Wahda goalkeeper Mohamed Al Shamsi had to be alert to push Hatem’s fifth minute shot to safety after the midfielder’s effort looked destined for the top corner while at the other end Omar Khrbin twice had sight of goal, only to miss the target.

Yohan Boli almost capped an eventful opening to the game when he sent a looping effort over the bar before the Qatari side took the lead in the 13th minute.

Hatem’s free-kick from the left drifted into the penalty area and, after the Al Wahda defence failed to clear, Khalilzadeh struck low and on the turn to give Al Rayyan the lead.

Nine minutes before the interval, Al Rayyan went close to doubling their advantage but Al Shamsi was again just about equal to the task as he pushed the ball away from goal.

There was little the Al Wahda goalkeeper could do, however, in the 54th minute when Hatem extended his side’s lead. Boli collected a long ball into the penalty area before pulling back to Hatem and he made no mistake with his low strike.

That goal finally roused Al Wahda, with substitute Tim Matavz hitting the post three minutes later while, in the 66th minute, ten Cate’s side halved the deficit. Ibrahim burst down the right before firing in a low centre the Al Rayyan defence struggled to clear before Al Ruwais slotted in.

Five minutes from time Ibrahim went from provider to scorer when he raced on to Matavz’s through ball to slide his shot beyond Younis and, with four minutes into injury time, Jumaa nodded in the winner to cap a remarkable comeback.

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