Doha, Qatar: Aspire Academy stormed to the quarterfinals of the Al Kass International Cup with a 3-1 victory against Scotland’s Rangers FC on Friday.
Having lost to Raja Casablanca in their first match, Aspire boys needed a victory to qualify and they made sure they got what they wanted.
Fahad Al Abdulla put Aspire ahead in the 16th minute with a tap in from a rebound after his initial effort was blocked by Rangers goalkeeper while Abdulrahman Al Abdulrahman took advantage of a Rangers defensive mistake to make it 2-0 in the 63rd.
Though Rangers pulled one back in the 82nd minute through Matt Yates to putt Aspire under pressure, Fahad scored his second of the evening, turning around beautifully inside the box to make room for himself before shooting into the bottom corner of the goal to calm their nerves.
The win helped Aspire finish second in the group, behind Rangers on goal difference.
“I’m happy with the performance and the result we got. Most of the players did very well and I’m very happy for them,” said Aspire coach Fabio Cesar. “Because it was an important match and we had to win somehow to go to the next phase. I’m very proud of them.”
The former Napoli, Al Rayyan and Umm Salal playmaker, who also represented Qatar for five years, said Aspire boys made some bad decisions in their first match even though they played well.
“In the first match, in my opinion, we played good, with a lot of intensity when we were pressing, unfortunately in the case of red cards our players… made a lot of bad behaviours and wrong decisions. Hope they understand and learn from these mistakes and don’t do it again. And now I hope this game is a new beginning for the tournament.
In the second match AS Roma defeated Kashiwa Reysol 2-0 to ensure their progress as Group B leaders. Kashiwa also entered the last 16 as the runners up from the group.