Matchday two of the AFC Champions League and AFC Cup got underway overnight. Here are some of the biggest results so far.
Cummings fires Mohun Bagan to victory in AFC Cup… despite outrageous penalty fail
A late Jason Cummings winner has seen Mohun Bagan Super Giant make it two wins from two games to kick-off their 2023-24 AFC Cup campaign.
Cummings fired home a brace either side of an equaliser from former Rockdale Ilinden and Avondale midfielder Tomoki Wada to seal a 2-1 victory over Maldivian outfit Maziya.
Featured image (left): Jason Cummings’ Instagram story
The brace took the Socceroo’s tally to seven goals in 10 appearances (along with two assists) in all competitions since arriving in the off-season from the Central Coast Mariners.
However, the Socceroos striker and Aussie teammate Dimitri Petratos had a moment to forget late in the first-half.
Leading 1-0, the Indian giants were awarded a penalty and Cummings had the chance to extend their lead heading into half-time. Instead of going for goal, Cummings and Petratos opted to go for a trick play, as the former laid it off to the latter who failed to get a shot away.
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“This is the players, they are on the field, they take this decision in this moment. Maybe because they have more confidence… maybe next time they think two times before they take the penalty like this,” Mohun Bagan Super Giant coach Juan Ferrando said.
“I am happy for the reaction of the team, because the team they tried to push in the second half. For me, this is more important.
“Maybe Dimitri takes the penalty and the ball is out. Maybe Jason kick the penalty and the ball is out. In this moment, they take this decision because they are confident. That’s all. There is no other reason.
“We have no success? Yes. Ok, maybe the next time they are thinking more to do this action. If they take this decision it is because they are confident in this moment, they trust this action is easy for them, but in the end, they have no success.”
The moment was reminiscent of the famous penalty set-play between Robert Pires and Thierry Henry during Arsenal’s clash with Manchester City in 2005. Pires went to lay the ball off to Henry but instead fluffed the pass.
Galatasaray duo Mauro Icardi and Kerem Akturkoglu also tried something similar last week in their clash against Istanbulspor, with the Argentinian missing the effort on goal.
Ferrando added that Cummings and Petratos have practised this set-play before in training, but praised the way the team responded to the miss – with the former scoring the all-important winner with time expiring.
“Yes, they practice different shots, different things, it’s normal,” he said.
“But, I think it’s not necessary so much to talk about this action, because they take this decision. Maybe if there is a goal, everybody is talking about, ‘wow, incredible, Dimitri and Jason, they are confident!’ In the end, they miss the penalty. It’s ok.
“The most important is the reaction of the team, because you miss one penalty, then (concede) one goal and the team in the second half go onto the field and fight a lot. I think this is the most important.
“…It’s ok. I think it’s not necessary to give more importance to this action. Ok, maybe they need to practice more, this is the truth.”
Maziya SRC coach Milomir Seslija added: “When you underestimate somebody, it’s not fair to opponents. They tried to beat Hussain (Shareef), but they looked quite funny you know.
“That’s why I tell to my players we are going to win this game. Almost we did it… our problem, we don’t have the bullets. If I have two more players, we have more chances to change something. I cannot replace what I wanted to do.”
Ronaldo off the mark in the ACL
Cristiano Ronaldo opened his AFC Champions League account on Tuesday morning, scoring in Al-Nassr’s come from behind 3-1 victory over FC Istiklol.
Ronaldo brought the scores level with a second-half strike, cancelling out Senan Sebai’s first-half opener, before Anderson Talisca scored two goals in five minutes to win the game for Saudi Arabian outfit.
The win continued their perfect start to the 2023-24 ACL, as they sit top of Group E heading into matchday three.
Sitting in second is Iranian side Persepolis, who got off the mark with a 1-0 win over Al-Duhail.
Meanwhile, the match between Sepahan and Al-Ittihad was called off just before kick-off, when Al-Ittihad refused to play reportedly due to a statue of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani sitting pitchside.
The Saudi Arabian Football Association made the decision to call both Al-Ittihad and Al Hilal – who play Nassaji Mazandaran tomorrow – back from Iran.