ACL2018: Sneijder on target as Al Gharafa reach group stage


Al Gharafa booked their place in the group stage of the AFC Champions League after a hard-earned 2-1 home win over Pakhtakor of Uzbekistan on Tuesday.

Mehdi Taremi was brought down inside the box by Marko Simic, and Wesley Sneijder made no mistake from the spot to give Al Gharafa the lead in the 21st minute.

Seven minutes later, Diogo Amado doubled the score with a powerful long-range low drive that somehow found its way past goalkeeper Aleksandr Lobanov.

Qassim Burhan made a mess of a simple cross in injury time to allow substitute Jasurbek Khakimov to pull one back for the visitors, but the Al Gharafa goalkeeper made up for his mistake seconds later with a brilliant block to deny Simic the equaliser.

The Cheetahs will now play in Group A, where they will face Al Ahli (Saudi Arabia), Al Jazirah (UAE) and Tractor Sazi (Iran).

With Al Sadd, Al Rayyan and Al Duhail automatically qualified, Qatar will have four clubs in the group stage of Asia’s top club competition for the first time since 2014.

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