Sadd’s Bounedjah is top scorer of ACL as Kashima Antlers win maiden title
Baghdad Bounedjah has won the 2018 AFC Champions League top scorer award after the Algerian’s 13 goals saw him finish ahead of Suwon Samsung Bluewings’ Dejan Damjanovic and Al Duhail’s Yousef El Arabi.
The Al Sadd forward matched the all-time single tournament record held by Muriqui who netted the same tally by the conclusion of Guangzhou Evergrande’s 2013 campaign.
However, unlike Muriqui who lifted the continental title with the Chinese Super League side, with Al Sadd eliminated from the tournament in the semi-finals by Persepolis, Bounedjah’s involvement in the 2018 AFC Champions League was brought to an end at the penultimate stage.
But he remained on top of the scoring charts following yesterday final between Persepolis and Kashima Antlers with Ali Alipour of the former and Serginho of the latter still eight goals behind Algerian.
Annadurdyyev, though, was unable to add to his tally as Air Force Club ran out 2-0 winners and Bounedjah’s 13 goals proved enough to confirm him as the top scorer.
Bounedjah scored his first goals of the 2018 AFC Champions League with a brace in Al Sadd’s 2-1 Matchday One away at the United Arab Emirates’ Al Wasl, before netting a second double against Persepolis on Matchday Two.
The 26-year-old next netted in Al Sadd’s Matchday Four win over Nasaf, before his third brace of the Group Stage against Al Wasl in the return meeting in Doha.
Al Sadd ultimately finished Group C as runners-up behind Persepolis with Boundedjah’s ending the first stage of the AFC Champions League with seven goals from six matches.
And the knockout stage proved no barrier to the prolific North African.
Bounedjah bagged two goals against Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli in the Round of 16, with three more coming his way from the quarter-finals against Iranian giants Esteghlal.
However, the third meeting of the campaign against Persepolis in the semi-final first leg proved to be his and Al Sadd’s undoing as they were blanked by the IR Iran side.
Meanwhile, Japan’s Kashima Antlers won the Asian Champions League for the first time in their history with a 2-0 aggregate victory after their return leg against Iranian giants Persepolis ended in a goalless draw yesterday.
The Japanese side had won the first leg 2-0 in Kashima last week with Brazilian duo Leo Silva and Serginho on target.
That left Persepolis, also chasing their first continental title, with plenty to do in Tehran and although they created several chances in front of a 100,000-strong crowd at the Azadi Stadium, Go Oiwa’s men held on to their two-goal advantage. wKashima’s triumph was the second straight time a Japanese team had won the title, following Urawa Red Diamonds’ victory last year. Before that Gamba Osaka had claimed the crown in 2008.
Persepolis, known for their mean defence, had no option but to attack on Saturday, but Kashima goalkeeper Kwoun Sun-tae put in a virtuoso performance.
Kwoun, for whom this was a third Asian crown following two with South Korea’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, was at the top of his game, keeping the Iranians, especially Ali Alipour and Bashar Resan, at bay.