Tuesday, June 25, 2019

AFC Champions League Review: Spain great Xavi ends playing career with defeat

SoccerNews in La Liga 20 May 2019

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Spain and Barcelona icon Xavi played the final match of his playing career in Al Sadd’s 2-0 AFC Champions League defeat to Persepolis on Monday.

One of the most decorated players in football history, Xavi won 19 honours during his 17-year Barca stay and also enjoyed great success on the international stage, winning the World Cup and Euro 2008 and 2012 with Spain.

He joined Qatari club Al Sadd in 2015 to see out his playing days and on Monday he pulled on their jersey for the last time after announcing his impending retirement earlier this month, as he bids to embark on a coaching career.

Before kick-off in Tehran’s Azadi Stadium, Xavi was honoured with a framed commemorative jersey and other gifts.

He was not able go out with a victory, though, as Al Sadd – who are already assured of a place in the knockout phase of the competition – were downed by goals from Mehdi Torabi and Ali Alipour, though Persepolis bow out anyway.

In Group C, Al Duhail scored a last-gasp equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Al Hilal to join their visitors in the next round, resulting in Esteghlal’s campaign coming to a close despite beating Al Ain 2-1 on the road.

In the day’s late kick-off, Al Ahli scored a stoppage-time winner to defeat Pakhtakor 2-1 and secure qualification at their visitors’ expense, with Abdulrahman Ghareeb’s fierce strike doing the damage just moments after Igor Sergeev’s equaliser had seemingly sealed a draw.

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