CWC Opener: Al Sadd overcome part-timers Hienghene and VAR
DOHA- Qatari champions Al Sadd converted a free kick naively given away with a back pass to the goalkeeper to set up a 3-1 extra-time win over New Caledonian part-timers Hienghene Sport in the opening Club World Cup match on Wednesday.
The Oceania champions were under no pressure when Cedric Sansot rolled the ball to his goalkeeper Rocky Nyikeine who picked it up and conceded an indirect free kick in the 10th minute of extra time.
Abdelkarim Hassan blasted his shot past the wall and Pedro Miguel added a third six minutes from fulltime to earn a second round match against Mexican side Monterrey on Saturday and end the dreams of the team from the French archipelago in the Pacific.
Al Sadd, coached by former Spain and Barcelona midfielder Xavi, were on the wrong end of three VAR decisions but also squandered countless chances, including an open goal missed by Asian Player of the Year Akram Afif at the end of normal time.
Baghdad Bounedjah, scorer of winning goal for Algeria against Senegal in this year’s Africa Cup of Nations final, met a cross first-time to put Al Sadd ahead in the 26th minute.
Shortly afterwards, Afif had a second Al Sadd goal chalked off for offside following a lengthy VAR review.
Hienghene, who travelled to France and were beaten 3-1 by fifth tier side ASPV Strasbourg in the French Cup last month, stunned the hosts by equalising four minutes after the break.
Amy Roine won possession off Hassan and placed his shot into the far corner, the goal was disallowed for a foul but the decision was reversed after a VAR review.
Al Sadd had another goal ruled out for offside after another VAR review and Afif’s shocking miss sent the game into extra-time where Hienghene’s brave resistance finally crumbled.
South American champions Flamengo and European champions Liverpool have byes to the semi-finals next week.
(Content and photos syndicated via Reuters)