Uzbekistan’s Neftchi handed Qatar champions Al Sadd their third AFC Champions League defeat this season as they claimed a 2-1 victory at Fergana Stadium on Wednesday.
Neftchi took their tally at the top of group C to nine points while Al Sadd remained at the rock bottom of the group with only three points from four matches as their chances of maintaining their 100 per cent record in appearing in every ACL quarter-finals editions received a big blow.
The home side opened the scoring early in the game through Iqboljon Akramov before Al Sadd Brazilian striker Emerson leveled the scores in the 17th minute. However, Nasim Shoimov scored the winning goal for Neftchi in the 40th minute.
Neftchi had a quick start for the game as they opened the scoring after only 60 seconds when Al Sadd goalkeeper Mohamed Saqr misjudged Mansurjon Saidov cross from the left flank and Iqboljon Akramov hit the net from the edge of the area despite the helpless efforts of Al Sadd defender Abdulla Al Berik to clear the ball off the goal-line.
Al Sadd nearly replied three minutes after Akramov’s opener but the powerful header of Ecuadorian striker Carlos Tenorio went wide as the visitors started to come gradually into the game after a poor start.
The Qatari champions leveled the scores in the 17th minute a cross from the left flank from Ali Al Nuaimi to Emerson who jumped over Iqboljon Akramov and headed home the equalizer for Al Sadd.
Neftchi regained their possession and went into the attack where the could have regained the lead in the 32nd minute when Nodirbek Kuziboyev went one-on-one against Al Sadd goalkeeper Mohammed Saqr who cleared Kuziboyev shot with his feet to a corner while Nosirbek Okatkuziev header went into the side netting two minutes later.
However, Neftchi scored their second goal five minutes before the break when Masud Toirov played a powerful free kick which was deflected to the path of Nasim Shoimov who chipped the ball on the far post past Al Sadd goalkeeper Mohammed Saqr.
Neftchi started the second half just like they finished the first and they could have added another goal in the 49th minute when Nosirbek Okatkuziev header went wide just two minutes before Neftchi full crowd called for a penalty kick as Azizjon Ibragimov fell inside the area after edging Al Sadd defender Ibrahim Abdulmajed.
Al Sadd had a blasting chance to level the scores in the 65th minute when Emerson had a powerful long range missile which edged Neftchi goalkeeper Gayratjon Hasanov but the woodwork denied the former Urawa Reds striker from scoring the equalizer.
Neftchi nearly sealed the win in the 89th minute after a quick counter attack from second half substitute Ruslan Melziddinov who went into the right flank and sent a ball in to Nosirbek Okatkuziev whose shot was cleared to safety by Al Sadd goalkeeper Mohammed Saqr in the last action in the game.