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Xavi: No regrets as Al Sadd proved their worth


Riyadh: Al Sadd head coach Xavi praised the performance of his side despite their exit from the 2019 AFC Champions League at the semi-final stage on Tuesday.

Goals from Akram Afif, Nam Tae-hee, Hassan Al Haydos and Boualem Khoukhi saw Al Sadd defeat Al Hilal SFC 4-2 in the second leg of the semi-finals at the King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh, but Salem Al Dawsari and Bafetimbi Gomis' first half efforts ensured the Saudi Arabia club advanced 6-5 on aggregate.

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Despite failing to reach the final, the 39-year-old Xavi said Al Sadd proved that they are a big team.

“It was a wonderful match because the two sides played well,” said Spain legend Xavi. “Despite the importance of the match, the two teams played wonderful football.

"I’m proud of my players who gave their best. We played good football with great ambition and desire and had great dominance in the match.”

Semi-final - 2nd Leg: Al Hilal SFC vs Al Sadd SC

Xavi lamented Al Sadd's missed chances - in the first leg in Doha as well as on Tuesday in Riyadh - adding that Abdelkarim Hassan and Baghdad Bounedjah's absence through suspension was greatly felt.

“We had many scoring chances in the two matches against Al Hilal, even when we were playing with one man down in the first leg. We were the better side in the two matches.”

“We played with the same strategy, character and ambition in the two matches but we were affected by the red card (received by Hassan) in the first leg and made mistakes which made things harder for us.

“We were affected by the absence of two of our key players tonight and we tried our best to make a comeback,” he said. “We proved tonight that we are a big team and achieved a good victory.”

The former FC Barcelona midfielder praised Al Hilal and said Al Sadd, having learnt from the experience of their AFC Champions League campaign this year, will be looking at the future.

“We should look ahead and keep working hard,” said Xavi. “We must learn from our mistakes in order to improve.

“Al Hilal are a good side and they have a good chance to win the title,” he said. “Teams in West Asia have improved a lot as there are many good players and decent coaches.”

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