Thursday, 26, April, 2018

Qatar's Al Gharafa scored twice in the first half before holding on to confirm a place in the 2018 AFC Champions League group stage with a 2-1 win over Uzbekistan's Pakhtakor in the play-off on Tuesday. After a cagey start to the game, the hosts had a chance to take the lead 20 minutes in, when Iranian striker Mehdi Taremi was fouled in the box by Pakhtakor defender Marko Simic.

Al Gharafa's Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder stepped up and made no mistake from the penalty spot to give his side the lead.

In the 28th minute, Al Gharafa doubled their advantage after Diogo Amado's strike from the edge of the box slipped through the hands of Aleksandr Lobanov.

Pakhtakor battled hard for a way back into the game but despite Jasurbek Khakimov's stoppage time goal, Al Gharafa hung on to clinch the win.

Al Gharafa will now join the UAE's Al Jazira, Saudi Arabia's Al Ahli and Islamic Republic of Iran's Tractor Sazi in Group A, with the Qatari side set to travel to Abu Dhabi for their first match against Al Jazira on February 12.

Pakhtakor recently signed Guinea Bissau born Portuguese striker Esmaël Gonçalves from Scottish Premier league side Hearts.

 

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