Sadd’s Bouned­jah is top scorer of ACL as Kashima Antlers win maiden ti­tle

Gulf Times Sport - - SPORT -

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.

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