Four-star Leonardo sends Al Wahda on top with win over Al Rayyan - GulfToday

Four-star Leonardo sends Al Wahda on top with win over Al Rayyan


Al Wahda’s Leonardo De Souza (centre) fights for the ball with Al Rayyan’s players during their AFC Champions League Group B match on Monday.

Leonardo was the star of the show, netting all four goals for Al Wahda as they came from behind to defeat Al Rayyan 4-3 on Matchday Four of the 2019 AFC Champions League Group B on Monday.

Al Wahda had come from behind to defeat Al Rayyan 2-1 in Doha two weeks ago and top the group with six points. So, the return fixture offered a chance for the Qataris to catch their opponents.

The visitors came racing off the blocks and were in front within 120 seconds through Sebastian Soria.

The former Qatari international striker evaded his marker inside the box and headed home from Rodrigo Tabata’s free-kick to hand Al Rayyan an early lead.

Buoyed by the goal, Gilson de Souza’s men continued to push forward and were rewarded for their attacking intent with a second goal in the sixth minute.

Left-back Mohammed Jumaa crossed for Gelmin Rivas and the Venezuelan’s header was blocked by Al Wahda defender Ahmed Rashid.

The ball, however, fell to Rivas who hit it first-time into the bottom corner for his third goal of the 2019 AFC Champions League.

Al Wahda’s response was instant, pulling one back through Leonardo.

The Brazilian collected the ball from Mansor Al Harbi’s pass and dribbled past two defender before placing the ball composedly into the back of the net from inside the box in the eighth minute.

With three goals inside the first eight minutes, the game continued at a fast pace. Rim Chang-woo and Sebastian Tagliabue missed chances for Al Wahda over the following 10 minutes before the fourth goal of the first half arrived.

Jumaa intercepted a poor defensive clearance from Al Wahda and supplied the ball to Koh Myong-jin whose cross on the volley found Rivas at the far post.

The former Al Hilal and Al Ittihad striker applied the finish to make it 3-1 to Al Rayyan midway through the opening half.

There was more of the same in the second half and it was Al Wahda who scored the next goal in this attacking festival.

Leonardo pounced on a loose ball inside the box, cutting inside into his left and drilled home his fifth strike of the competition, making it 3-2 in the 56th minute.

Eight minutes from time, Leonardo completed his hat-trick, tapping in from point-blank after Tagliabue had fed the ball to Khalil Ibrahim down the right to cross low for the Brazilian who was left with the easiest of finishes to bring Al Wahda level.

The former Al Ahli winger still had more tricks up his sleeve, snatching the winner and his fourth of the night in the last minute.

Ismail Matar’s cross from a set-piece was headed across the mouth of the goal by substitute Hussain Abbas for Leonardo who was perfectly positioned to nod home the winning goal for the Clarets to the joy of the home crowd.

With the result, Al Wahda retain their place at the top of the group with nine points. The Emiratis also equaled their best AFC Champions League winning run with three victories on the trot. Al Rayyan, meanwhile, slip to the bottom of Group B with three points.

Meanwhile, it’s all or nothing for the 2016 AFC Champions League finalists as Al Ain welcome Al Duhail to Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Matchday Four of Group C on Tuesday.

The two sides met three times in the past 12 months in the competition, and Al Ain are yet to get a win in three attempts.

Al Duhail emerged triumphant on both occasions in the 2018 round of 16, brushing aside the Emiratis with a scoreline of 8-3 on aggregate.

Two weeks ago, Al Duhail were unable to defend a two-goal lead in Doha as Jamal Maroof and Marcus Berg clawed back the difference for Al Ain and the tie ended in a 2-2 draw.

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