20 apr 21:30
ACL MD5 - GROUP B: BUNYODKOR 0-2 LEKHWIYA
Captain Boudiaf struck in the 65th minute before Muntari sealed the result 12 minutes from time and the win moves Djamal Belmadi’s side on to eight points with only one match remaining in the group phase.
With Al Nassr losing heavily to Zobahan in the day’s other Group B match in Muscat, Lekhwiya will progress to the Round of 16 as runners-up behind the Iranians.
Bunyodkor, semi-finalists in the AFC Champions League in 2008 and 2012, needed to win to have any hope of staying alive in the competition and the defeat leaves them stranded at the bottom of the standings on two points.
“We came here to take three points,” said Lekhwiya coach Belmadi. “Our target was to win tonight, so I’m happy with my team's performance and the important victory.
“I don't want to mention the weaknesses of our opponent because it is disrespectful to Bunyodkor. We were better and stronger today than our rival, but we were also lucky.”
Lekhwiya had the first chance of the game after just seven minutes when Ali Afif volleyed over the bar from close range, while at the other end goalkeeper Amine Lecomte pulled off an acrobatic save to deny Otabek Shukurov’s attempt from 30 yards out.
Just before the half hour mark Afif went close again, but this time Bunyodkor goalkeeper Murotjon Zukhorov was on hand to push his side-footed effort to safety.
Jurica Buljat tried his luck from outside the area in the 58th minute, only for the ball to sail over the cross bar and, seven minutes later, Lekhwiya had taken the lead.
Nam Tae-hee’s attempted through ball was redirected by the Bunyodkor defence into the path of Boudiaf, and his first time effort beat Zukhorov at the near post to put the visitors in front.
Four minutes later, Nam almost doubled his side’s lead, only to shoot across the face of goal, while the Korea Republic international was involved again in the 74th minute when his one-two with Boudiaf allowed the goal scorer to fire off a shot that came back off Zukhorov’s left post.
By the 78th minute, however, Lekhwiya had claimed a deserved second as Yousef Msakni slipped the ball into the path of Muntari and the young Qatar international struck his left foot shot under Zukhorov and into the bottom corner.
“We played well for three-quarters of the game today,” said Bunyodkor coach Sergey Lushchan. “Unfortunately after that the game changed and we lost. I don't have any argument with my players about how we played because of what we showed for 65 minutes.
“We will finish the tournament after the next match and we will give our attention to our local league then. We couldn't score at home in the last two seasons in the group stage. I think we need to go to higher level to break through.”