QATARI clubs Al Rayyan and Lekhwiya got off to winning starts in the group stages of AFC Champions League, though in the manner one would have not expected.
Qatar Stars League (QSL) champions Rayyan eked out a 2-1 win against the UAE’s Al Wahda in a Group D match at the Al Sadd Stadium on Tuesday while Lekhwiya, who made it to the quarterfinal two seasons ago, blanked Al Jazira 3-0 in a Group A tie at their home ground last Monday.
Uruguayan international Gonzalo Viera headed home in the 13th minute to put Rayyan in the lead, but Rim Chang-Woo equalised when he connected an Ismaeil Matar cross in the 35th.
However, Viera chipped in with an assist as Victor Caceres headed home from close range in the 60th to help Michael Laudrup’s side register an important victory.
On a sour note, Caceres was booked in the added time of second half.
The performance should make Laudrup happy as the win will give them plenty of confidence and motivate them
to do well in a strong group also featuring Saudi giants Al Hilal and Iran’s Persepolis.
Earlier, Youssef El Arabi continued his impressive show for Lekhwiya by scoring a brace in his team’s emphatic win.
The Moroccan international, who is the joint top-scorer in the QSL with Al Sadd’s Baghdad Bounedjah, headed home Youssef Msakni’s cross to open the scoring in the 10th.
Tunisian international Msakni scored his team’s second goal in the 80th. Later, El Arabi tapped home substitute Ali Afif’s pass in the added time to wrap up a comfortable win for Djamel Belmadi’s side.
“The team played with their hearts out. We overcame injury issues, but they had a great game,” said Belmadi.