Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Dubai: Danijel Subotic scored the vital spot kick as Al Qadsia claimed the AFC Cup for the first time in their third appearance in the final in five years with a 4-2 penalty shootout win over Arbil at the Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium on Saturday evening.
The Swiss striker clinched the title for the Kuwaiti club to keep the trophy in the Gulf state just 12 months after losing in the final to compatriots Kuwait Sports Club.
Al Qadsia were crowned champions after the final ended scoreless following 120 minutes and goalkeeper Nawaf Al Khaldi set up Subotic to win the title for Al Qadsia, saving Ali Faez Atiyah’s effort in the penultimate round.
Dhary Saeed and Hawar Mohammed missed for Al Qadsia and Arbil respectively after Bader Al Mutwa and Amjad Rahdi had both scored in the opening round of spot kicks before Al Khaldi dived full length to his right to push Atiyah’s attempt wide of the goal.
On the balance of play over the 120 minutes, Al Qadsia were deserved winners having dominated for much of the game without being able to find a way to register on the scoreboard.
Antonio Puche Vicente’s team dictated the tempo of the opening half, but the Kuwaitis created little despite their dominance.
Al Mutwa and Saif Al Hashan made speculative attempts that caused few problems for Arbil goalkeeper Jalal Hassan while a header from Alvaro Silva Linares was off target as Al Qadsia struggled in the final third of the field.
It was Al Mutwa, though, who should have rewarded Al Qadsia’s superiority just before the half hour mark, the Kuwaiti international being put through on goal thanks to a delicate through ball from Al Hashan,only for Hassan to spread himself well to block the goal-bound effort.
Arbil had offered little offensively in a one-dimensional first half performance, but the Iraqis almost took a surprise lead as the first half approached its conclusion only for goalkeeper Al Khaldi to be equal to Radhi’s low free kick, pushing it to safety around his right post.
The action switched almost immediately to the other end when Hassan steered Subotic’s effort away from goal and seconds later Al Mutwa stepped inside from the left to hit a shot the Arbil goalkeeper was happy to collect.
The stifling heat and humidity took its toll in the second half as both teams struggled to find any fluency after the restart as only Al Mutwa created anything of note when his low effort in the 62nd minute was easily collected by Hassan.
Arbil, however, started to assert a level of authority as the game entered the final quarter. Rahdi should have done better in the 70th minute when he went through the middle, only to push his left-footed effort wide off the target.
Six minutes later Victor Ormazabal glanced Halkor Mulla Mohammad Taher’s corner across the face of goal, and Taher followed that soon after with a left foot shot that caused Al Khaldi few difficulties before the game slipped into extra time.
Within seconds of the start of the first period, Al Qadsia could have sealed the win: Subotic powered a header just over the bar following a cross from substitute Saeed while Al Mutwa squandered more opportunities to kill off the game, twice hitting the side netting when in good positions to score. Fahed Al Ebrahim then resorted to trying his luck from long range only to see the ball fly over the bar.
Ormazabal tried from similar distance with seconds remaining of the 120 minutes, but Al Khaldi dropped to his right to push the ball around the post, taking the game to a penalty shootout and setting up Subotic and Al Khaldi to become the heroes.