Al Wahda, in the absence of their ace Argentine striker Sebastian Tagliabue, suffered a humiliating 5-0 loss at the hands of Lokomotiv Tashkent in the opening Group B fixture of the AFC Champions League at the Lokomotiv Stadium on Monday. At half-time, Lokomotiv Tashkent led 1-0.
Ikromjon Alibaev fired a brace while Nivaldo Rodrigues Ferreira and Sardor Rashido scored a goal apiece. The tally of the winners also included an own goal by Salem Sultan Al Sharji.
With this loss, Al Wahda’s poor run in the tournament continues. In their last 16 away games in the AFC Champions League, they have lost 11 and five have ended in draws.
Al Wahda had the early share of the ball but they couldn’t yield any rewards. Once the hosts got the edge, they kept gaining in confidence and simply tightened the noose to shut the door on their opponents.
Twice early, Ahmad Al Akberi came close to scoring for Al Wahda on assists from Hungarian winger Balázs Dzsudzsák but on both occasions, the efforts were blocked by an alert Lokomotiv Tashkent goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov.
Lokomotiv Tashkent shot into lead in the 25th minute. Nivaldo, latching on to a through by Sanjar Shaakhmedov, found the right corner of the goal with a left-footed effort.
Ten minutes after that goal, Lokomotiv Tashkent were forced to replace the goalscorer Nivaldo with Sardor Rashidov following an injury to the former. Despite that setback, the hosts kept pressing and Al Wahda goalkeeper Rashed Ali was forced to make some timely blocks to save his side from slipping further before the breather.
The closest of them was a power-packed left-footed effort from Oleg Zoteev after being set by Ikromjon Alibaev.
After the change of ends, Al Wahda were cut into shreds as Lokomotiv Tashkent pumped in two goals in less than two minutes. It all started after Al Wahda goalkeeper Ali paid the price for loitering way out of the goalline in the 53rd minute. Alibaev, on seeing Ali out of position, brilliantly shot home with a pin point strike into the centre of the goal from outside the axis.
Even before Al Wahda could recover from that blow, they were trailing by another one after Salem Sultan scored an own goal in trying to clear a deft cross from the right by Shukhrat Mukhammadiev.
Lokomotiv Tashkent piled on more misery on Al Wahda by making it 4-0 in the 59th minutes. Rashidov scored from a right angle with a left-footed effort following a corner by Sadriddin Abdullaev.
Then three minutes from time, Alibaev completed his brace by nodding home a cross from Mukhammadiev to make it 5-0.
By N. D. Prashant
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