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Round of 16 1st Leg: Al Duhail SC (QAT) 1-1 Al Sadd SC (QAT)

Al Wakrah: Youssef Msakni scored on his second Al Duhail debut to cancel out Akram Afif’s opener for Al Sadd as the two Qatari sides played out a 1-1 draw at Al Janoub Stadium in the first leg of the 2019 AFC Champions League round of 16 on Tuesday.

Al Sadd, however, will be the happier of the two with the result as they took away a crucial away goal ahead of next week's return leg.

The winners will face either Al Nassr of Saudi Arabia or Al Wahda of the UAE in the quarter-finals.

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Winger Masakni returned to Al Duhail this summer after a loan spell at KAS Eupen. And there were also debuts for Nam Tae-hee who swapped sides, joining Al Sadd from Al Duhail and for 19-year-old Mohanad Ali on the other side. Al Sadd boss Xavi also made his managerial debut on the night.

Al Duhail’s night started with an early blow as star defender Medhi Benatia hobbled off with an injury 18 minutes into the match. Replacing him was Qatari international Bassam Al Rawi who nearly made an instant impact, but he curled his free-kick just over the crossbar from his first touch of the ball.

Al Sadd goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb waited until the 24th minute to make his first save, when he dived low to catch Mohammad Musa’s header from Ali Afif’s out-swinging corner-kick.

The stalemate was finally ended at the half-hour mark and it was Al Sadd’s Akram Afif who drew first blood. A misplaced Mohammed Muntari pass was collected by Jung Woo-young who caught the Al Duhail defence napping, sending an overhead pass for Afif to cut inside and drill into the back of the net, beating goalkeeper Amine Lecomte at his near post.

A cagey period ensued with little in the way of scoring chances for either team. That is until Al Duhail found an opening just a minute before the end of the first half.

Brazilian winger Edmilson moved into space down the right flank and supplied an outside-of-the-boot cross that was chested down by Muntari for skipper Msakni who fired first-time on the half volley from the edge of the box and into the back of the net to bring the home side level.

Al Duhail's Almoez Ali had his first sight of goal five minutes after the restart. Msakni and Edmilson exchanged quick passes on the right wing and the former slipped a through pass for Ali who tried his luck from an angle, but was denied by Al Sheeb.

Al Duhail took control for the remainder of the second half as they looked to secure a win at home. Al Rawi threatened with a header that breezed over the bar and Ali watched as his powerful effort from outside the box was punched away by the goalkeeper.

Even the introduction of Iraqi international Mohanad Ali in the 65th minute for his Al Duhail debut didn’t make a difference to the fortunes of Rui Faria’s men as they settled for a 1-1 draw ahead of making the short trip north to Al Sadd’s Jassim bin Hamad Stadium for the return leg next week.

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