Al Fayha clinches debut AFC Champions League win, beating Pakhtakor 2-0
RIYADH — In a memorable display at the Prince Faisal Bin Fahd Stadium, Saudi club Al Fayha secured their inaugural victory in the AFC Champions League, triumphing 2-0 over Uzbekistan's Pakhtakor FC.
In only their second appearance in the competition, the 2021/22 King Cup champions showcased clinical efficiency, with Abdelhamid Sabiri's two goals earning them a vital three points.
The hosts established their dominance early, creating turmoil in the Pakhtakor box within the first seven minutes. Sultan Mandash's charge to the byline led to an opportune save, setting the stage for Al Fayha's control of the game.
Sabiri, currently on loan from Serie A side Fiorentina, gave Al Fayha the lead a mere three minutes later with a swerving long-range strike that left Pakhtakor's goalkeeper, Sanjar Kuvvatov, with no chance.
Despite Pakhtakor's efforts, especially from wing-backs Khojiakbar Alijonov and Farrukh Sayfiev, the quality of their delivery left much to be desired in the first half.
In the 38th minute, Pakhtakor had a prime opportunity to level the score when midfielder Diyor Kholmatov's attempt from outside the box narrowly missed the post.
The Uzbek side emerged as the stronger team in the second half, consistently challenging Al Fayha's goalkeeper, Ahmed Alkassar. Alkassar made crucial saves, thwarting Dostonbek Khamdanov's curling effort in the 52nd minute and Alijonov's attempt ten minutes later.
Nevertheless, with Pakhtakor unable to convert their chances, Al Fayha seized the opportunity to double their lead. Moroccan international Abdelhamid Sabiri, once again a pivotal figure, skillfully rounded Kuvvatov and slotted home with 18 minutes remaining in normal time.
Al Fayha effectively defended their lead, and their upcoming challenge awaits as they prepare to face UAE's Al Ain on October 24th. Meanwhile, Pakhtakor aims for redemption in their forthcoming clash against Turkmenistan's Ahal FC on the same day.