Qatar Football AssociationNews
25.02.2014 23:52 in :

Abu Dhabi: A second half header from teenage substitute Ahmed Gheilani proved the difference as Al Jazira edged out Qatar’s Al Rayyan 3-2 in an entertaining AFC Champions League Group A opener at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium on Tuesday.

Two goals inside the first 10 minutes from Ecuadorian striker Felipe Caicedo and Moroccan frontman Abdelaziz Barrada had handed Al Jazira the ideal start only for Al Rayyan’s Argentinean midfielder Lucho Gonzalez to give the visitors hope just before the hour mark.

But fortunately for Arabian Gulf League side Al Jazira, Gheilani headed home with 16 minutes remaining having only been on the field for less than a minute before Nigerian Kalu Uche struck for Al Rayyan in stoppage time.

Al Jazira, who reached the last 16 in 2012, enjoyed the perfect opening to the match as Caicedo showed superb control to bring Barrada’s left wing cross back into his path with his right foot before beating goalkeeper Oumar Barry from the edge of the six yard area with a left-footed strike.

And the pair combined again just six minutes later as Barrada was on hand to convert after Barry could only block Caicedo’s shot following an error from Al Rayyan defender Nathan Otavio.

Following the disastrous opening 10 minutes, Al Rayyan came into the contest as the half progressed with Yakubu providing the main attacking threat as the Nigerian striker headed narrowly wide of the upright from Gonzalez’s 30th minute cross.

But a minute before the hour mark Al Rayyan halved the deficit as a shot from captain Jaralla Al Maari was blocked out to the edge of the penalty area and Gonzalez dispatched a low strike past unsighted goalkeeper Ali Khaseif.

Al Rayyan should have been level three minutes later, but after being picked our unmarked at the back post, Yakubu inexplicably sent his header sailing over the crossbar.

And with 16 minutes remaining Al Jazira restored their two-goal cushion as substitute Gheilani met Barrada’s corner at the front post and squeezed a header past Barry.

Al Jazira, though, were forced to endure a nervous finish to the contest as Khaseif’s mishit clearance went straight to Al Rayyan striker Uche in the second minute of stoppage time and the Nigerian took full advantage by wrong-footing the home custodian from the edge of the area.