Welliton’s hat-trick helps Sharjah rout Al Taawoun; Al Ain hold Sepahan - GulfToday

Welliton’s hat-trick helps Sharjah rout Al Taawoun; Al Ain hold Sepahan

AFC Champions League

Sharjah players celebrate after their victory over Al Taawoun in an AFC Champions League match on Monday.

An emphatic second-half display saw Sharjah cruise to a 6-0 victory over Al Taawoun FC to move above them into second place in Group C of the 2020 AFC Champions League on Monday.

Sharjah got off to a flying start and within six minutes they had handed goalkeeper Cassio his first test of the night. Brazilian forward Welliton broke free down the right and squared for his compatriot Igor Coronado who applied a powerful low finish, but the Al Taawoun goalkeeper was up to the challenge and made the save.

Halfway through the first 45 minutes, Cassio repeated his heroics in an almost-identical manner. This time it was Khalid Bawazir who was set up by Welliton’s cross from the right and the midfielder watched Al Taawoun’s Brazilian goalkeeper make a fine save to keep the scores level.

Sharjah’s pressure finally produced the opening goal of the night in added time of the first half. Winger Saif Rashid got on the end of a Coronado free-kick and guided his header into the bottom corner with what was essentially the last attack of the half.

Abdulaziz Al Anbari’s men started the second half as strongly as they finished the first. A swift counter-attacking move saw Welliton exchange passes with Caio down the left before breaking free and dribbling past the last defender in style and firing with his left into the roof of the net to double Sharjah’s lead four minutes after the restart.

Substitute Mohammed Abdulbasit, who replaced Rashid, made it 3-0 in the 54th minute. Coronado found Bawazir inside the box with a sublime pass behind the defence and the latter laid it back to Abdulbasit who drilled it past Cassio for Sharjah’s third of the night.

Al Taawoun’s misery was compounded just three minutes later, after their goalkeeper failed to properly control a back pass, allowing Welliton to snatch the ball and finish into the empty net for Sharjah’s fourth.

The Emiratis’ clinical counter-attacking display continued as they made it four goals in 12 minutes. Coronado sliced a cross from the corner into the near post where Welliton was perfectly positioned to head home for his hat-trick and Sharjah’s fifth in the 61st minute.

Caio Lucas added his name to the scoresheet in the 68th minute after Coronado cut inside and fired an effort that was saved by Cassio, only for it to fall into the path of Caio who guided the header past his compatriot and into the back of the net to round off the scoring.

Sharjah’s largest-ever win in the AFC Champions League means they can reach the Round of 16 for the first time in their history with a win against Persepolis in their last game, while Al Taawoun’s fate is now out of their hands. The Saudis need a win against Al Duhail and a draw between Sharjah and Persepolis to qualify.

Meanwhile, midfielder Mohammed Karimi expressed his disappointment after Sepahan FC’s elimination from the 2020 AFC Champions League following a goalless draw with UAE’s Al Ain in their penultimate Group D tie on Monday.

The result meant Sepahan joined Al Ain as the two sides exiting the tournament from Group D as Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr and Qatar’s Al Sadd secured their places in the Round of 16.

“We tried the best we could and we were the better side in the second half,” said Karimi, who was named Man of the Match.

“Unfortunately it was a goalless draw and it wasn’t the result that we wanted.

“The competition was very difficult as we were drawn with two strong teams. Al Nassr were in the quarter-finals of the competition last year while Al Sadd reached the final four,” said the 24-year-old player.

Al Ain FC skipper Ismail Ahmed said his team played well despite having already been eliminated after Matchday Four.

“We tried today to play a good match despite having lost hope (of advancing),” said the veteran defender. “Our target was to regain the trust of our fans who were disappointed with our recent performances.

Related articles