New Delhi: Indian champions Dempo SC’s hopes of making it into the elite Champions League group stages was denied as they fell 3-0 to UAE’s Al Sharjah in a West Asia play-off at the Sharjah Stadium.
It was the brilliance of Brazilian duo of Anderson Barbosa and Jean Carlos which came to haunt them. Al Sharjah joins Iran’s Persepolis, Al Shabab of Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s Al Gharafa in the Group B of the prestigious Asia competition.
Meanwhile, Dempo shall once again play the AFC Cup and have Al Faisaly of Jordan, Al Maged of Syria and Al Muharraq of Bahrain in Group E.
Brazilian Jean Carlos unsettled the Dempo defence with an ambitious back-heel in the 5th minute and followed it up with a volley. But it was the other Brazilian who found his name on the scoresheet first.
Al Sharjah won a free-kick at the edge of the box with Nawaf Mubarak sending in a floater. Mousa Hatab’s header came off the defenders for Anderson to finish it off in the 11th minute.
Dempo’s Anthony Pereira had an opportunity to equalise after picking on the pieces from Mubarak’s back-heel around the half hour mark.
The home side kept up the pressure and almost doubled the lead when Mubarak’s corner-kick was met by Hussein Alaa’s header only to be cleared off the line.
Two minutes later, Jean Carlos weaved his way past and scored through the legs of John Dias.
In the second session, Al Sharjah resumed from where they left and added the final nail in the coffin when Jean Carlos' corner found its way to Mousa Hatab which was headed in.
Ranti Martins’ volley by saved by Al Sharjah custodian Rashid Ahmed, who stood tall from a powerful Beto free-kick a few minutes later. Beto had another opportunity but was denied from inside the area by the custodian.
Al Sharjah had the chance to inflict further misery on Dempo but it was the brilliance of goalkeeper Abhijit Mondal which didn’t change the scoreline. First off substitute Salim Saif which was followed by a Jean Carlos effort.
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