Doha, Qatar: Young substitute Khalid Muneer scored a sensational bicycle kick goal in added time as Al Duhail SC finished off their season in style with an entertaining 2-2 draw against Saudi Arabian side Al Hilal on Monday.
With both teams already ensuring progress into the last 16, Hilal as group leaders and Duhail behind them, there was nothing much to lose for either of them.
Duhail were in a confident mood after their Amir Cup triumph, but coach Rui Faria opted to start with three of his key players - Medhi Benatia, Almoez Ali and Assim Madibo - on the bench.
He later replaced another big name Nakajima Shoya with Muneer, who justified his coach’s decision with a spectacular shot, just when it seemed the Red Knights would have to finish the season with a defeat which they did not deserve.
Earlier, Duhail took the lead in the 15th minute through Youssef El Arabi.
Hilal were playing a high defensive line and although they caught El Arabi and Paulo Edmilson in offside traps a couple of times it looked like a dangerous ploy.
And so it proved when Ahmed Yassir found Abdullah Al Ahrak on the right with a measured long ball. Al Ahrak, playing in place of Assim Madibo, timed his run beautifully to break the offside trap and directed a cross to El Arabi who did the rest with an unerring finish.
Though Hilal had bigwigs such as Bafetimbi Gomis and Sebastian Giovinco in their ranks, Duhail defence had no problems dealing with them at the start even without Benatia.
But all of a sudden a defensive error lead to the Hilal equaliser and it changed the complexion of the game in the first half.
A Murad Naji back pass in the 29th minute put undue pressure on Khalifa Ababacar, who opted to clear the ball for a throw in deep in their own half.
Duhail defence failed with their marking completely as first Mohamed Kanno made space for himself to fire a shot on goal from the right, which Ababacar only managed to parry into the path of Gomis, who found the net with left-footed shot.
The goal gave Hilal a shot in the arm as Duhail came under constant pressure with Carlos Eduardo hitting the crossbar with a fierce shot and Gomis testing Ababacar with another effort from inside the box.
Duhail survived that onslaught from the Saudi Arabians but they conceded again in the second half as Gomis used his upper body strength to make space for himself right outside the box and fired a low right-footer that squeezed in between Ababacar’s outstretches hands and the right post.
Gomis had another chance to complete his hat-trick soon but luckily for Duhail, Ababacar saved the French striker’s shot with his legs.
Duhail still had chances to take all three points, as Edmilson twice hit his shot straight at Hilal goalkeeper Abdullah Al Muaiouf.
But Muneer, who came in after the hour mark made it a day to remember for him when he caught the whole Hilal defence and keeper Almuaiouf unawares with a spectacular shot with his back to the goal to spark wild celebrations among his team-mates and a big smile on his coach’s face.