x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Baniyas make it through to the last 16 of Asian Champions League

Baniyas, who join Al Jazira as the first UAE teams to get out of the group stages since 2007, will next face Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal, winners of Group D.

Baniyas celebrate the first goal agianst Pakhtakor.
Baniyas celebrate the first goal agianst Pakhtakor.

SHAMKHA // Andre Senghor provided a goal in the first half and Amer Abdulrahman scored the clincher in the 71st minute as Baniyas defeated the Uzbek side Pakhtakor 2-0 to qualify for the final 16 of the Asian Champions League.

No UAE side had survived group play since 2007 until Al Jazira clinched a spot last month, and now they have been joined in the knockout stage by Baniyas, runners-up in Group B.

Baniyas will travel to the Saudi capital of Riyadh next Wednesday and meet Al Hilal, winners of Group D. The Saudi side will be favourite, but Baniyas may be encouraged by the recollection that fellow Pro League side Al Shabab played games of 1-1 and 2-1 with Al Hilal in the group phase.

The UAE side dominated all but a few minutes of the match, seen by 3,927, and Fawzi Basheer, playing on the right, was particularly dangerous in the attack. His pass set up Senghor's volley goal in the 13th minute, and he nearly scored himself.

Francisco Yeste dominated in the middle of the part, and it was his cool pass to Abdulrahman, the substitute, that set up the tap-in goal.

Baniyas have been mired in the bottom third of the league standings all season, but their campaign has not lacked for highlights. They played in the President's Cup final three weeks ago, and now they have fought their way into the ACL final 16 with perhaps their finest effort since Gabriel Calderon, the Argentine, took over the side late last year.

poberjuerge@thenational.ae

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