Posted on April 11, 2013

Al Nasr became the first club to exit the 2013 AFC Champions League when the Dubai-based club succumbed to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Al Gharafa that moved the Qatari side a step closer to the knockout stages.

Lawrence Quaye and Nene (Anderson Luiz de Carvalho) scored for the home side either side of a goal from Japanese international Takayuki Morimoto before Fahd Al Shammari added a third 10 minutes from time as Walter Zenga’s side lost for the fourth time in a row in Group C.

Victory moves Al Gharafa on to nine points from their four games and just one win away from a place in the Round of 16. “The win will give us a big push in order to compete for one of the two tickets for the knockout stage,” Al Gharafa coach Habib Tounsi. “The players performed well and scored the chances that they created. The match was hard and I was a little bit worried when we took the lead as I thought that the players will sit back and defend, which happened for a short time. However, we got back into the game and scored more goals which gave us an important win.”

Al Gharafa went in front after just eight minutes when Qatar international midfielder Quaye thundered a long range drive beyond Ahmad Shambih and into the top corner via a slight deflection off the shoulder of Giuseppe Mascara. Despite the early goal, the home’s side plans were disrupted almost immediately as captain Bilal Mohammed was taken off due to injury and was replaced by Majdi Siddiq.

By the 16th minute, Al Nasr had pulled level. Morimoto’s run through the middle caused consternation in the Al Gharfa defence before the former Catania striker laid the ball off to Bruno Cesar, whose return pass gave Morimoto the space to slot the ball to Qasem Burhan’s left.

Djibril Cisse and Alex both had efforts to restore Al Gharafa’s lead as the half wore on but it was not until 10 minutes into the second 45 minutes that the Qataris reclaimed their advantage. Nene stormed down the inside left channel before rolling the ball across the edge of the penalty area to Cisse and, although the former Marseille striker’s shot was saved, Nene was on hand to side-foot home the rebound.

Cisse almost claimed a third for Al Gharafa 17 minutes from time when his mid-air flick with his right foot went narrowly wide of Shambiah’s left post but, with 10 minutes remaining, Al Shammari put the result beyond any doubt with an unstoppable header from an Alex (Alex Raphael Meschini) corner.

“I’m disappointed because with this defeat we lost our chance to advance from the group,” said Zenga. “We lost the match tonight because we made several individual mistakes and gave the chance to Al Gharafa to score goals because the first two goals clearly came from individual mistakes.

“We are taking part in the competition for only the second time and we still lack experience and that, in addition to the heavy schedule, affected the players as we were playing a match every three days. We need to learn the lessons and hopefully have better performances in the last two matches.”

On the other hand, Al Jazira’s winless run in the AFC Champions League this season continued on Wednesday as the UAE Pro League side were held to a 1-1 draw by Qatar’s El Jaish.

Qatar Airways now flies 4 times weekly to Warsaw, Poland