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AFC Cup R16: Arbil 0-0 Nejmeh (3-0 pens)     16/05/2014 1:49:51 AM


Doha: Jalal Hassan saved three penalties as Arbil of Iraq booked their place in the last eight of the AFC Cup after a 3-0 shootout victory over Lebanese side Nejmeh on Wednesday.
After a goalless 120 minutes at the Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium, Hassan emerged as the hero for his club in the Round of 16 clash as he stopped efforts by Khaled Takaji, Khaled Hamieh and Kassem El Zein.
Amjed Radhi, Saad Abdulameer and Ali Faez converted for the 2012 runners-up who will now go into the draw for the quarter-finals on May 28.
“Qualifying for the quarter-finals was very hard because it was only decided in a penalty shootout,” said Arbil coach Ayob Odisho. “We expected a tough match but our players played with great fighting spirit to win the match and advance.
“Playing in one match in the knockout stage is always hard and we could have sealed the match early in regulation time but our players failed to score from the chances that they created due to lack of concentration.”
Arbil were the better side during the match but they could not find a way past Nejmeh goalkeeper Mohamad Hamoud, who made his best save of the match in the 30th minute when he punched away a powerful free-kick by Spanish forward Borja Rubiato.
The Iraqi side nearly secured the win with five minutes left in regulation time when substitute Hawar Mulla Mohammed gave the ball to Luay Salah who exchanged passes with Amjed Radhi before advancing into the box and sending a powerful shot just wide of the left upright.
The hot conditions made it difficult for the players as the match went on and the energy levels dropped with Nejmeh clearly playing for the shootout towards the end.
That ultimately worked against the Lebanese club as Jalal Hassan stopped everything that was fired at him in the shootout to send Arbil through.
“We put a lot of effort in the match in order to get the ticket to the next round but the penalty shootout was not good for us,” said Nejmeh coach Theo Bucker.
“The match saw good performances from the two sides and we had some chances but we failed to score.
“We played with great concentration for 120 minutes but at the end of the day we lost in a penalty shootout where luck plays an important role. We were hoping to continue in the competition but we were not fortunate.”