Arad: Muharraq Club bagged the second AFC Cup title in their history, after dispatching 2011 winners FC Nasaf 3-0 in the final to win the 2021 edition at Sheikh Ali bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Stadium on Friday.
Having last won the AFC Cup in 2008, Muharraq join Kuwait SC and Air Force Club of Iraq (3) and Jordan’s Al Faisaly (2) as the only clubs to have won multiple AFC Cup titles; they also book their place in the 2022 AFC Champions League.
In front of a large home crowd, the Bahraini side got off to a flyer and just three minutes into the game, Jordanian import Mahmoud Al Mardi produced a stunning curled strike from outside the area and nearer the flank, which caught goalkeeper Umidjon Ergashev off-guard and far from his line, to put Muharraq in the lead.
Nasaf immediately looked to restore parity, with a move materialising down the centre resulting Sherzod Nasrullaev in crossing into the area, with Khusain Norchaev meeting the high ball with his heels, attempting a scorpion kick that ultimately missed the target before Nasrullaev was eventually flagged offside.
Marko Stanojevic missed a good chance to pull level a little before the half-hour mark, pouncing on the rebound and going for power, his shot was blocked by Waleed Al Hayam after Oybek Bozorov had managed to get into the area, before Bakhrom Abdurakhimov’s shot was saved by the goalkeeper leading up to Stanojevic’s chance.
The lively Bozorov picked up where he left off in the first half as soon as the second period of play was on, cutting inside from the right flank, taking on two players before launching a shot goalwards that was dealt with comfortably by Muharraq keeper Sayed Mohammed Jaffar.
Sukhrob Nurrullaev rattled the crossbar after cutting inside from the flank, and firing in past Jaffar, who managed to just get his fingertips on the shot to deflect it onto the bar, with Stanojevic fumbling the resulting rebound. Dilshod Saitov missed a similar chance a few minutes later, although his shot was low.
Far against the run of play, Hussein Jameel found space on the right flank less than two minutes after coming on as a substitute, he received a beautifully weighted pass from Noor Al Rawabdeh, picking him out as he ran free on goal before slotting in to add his side’s second goal of the night, making it 2-0 with a quarter of an hour to go.
Brazilian forward Flavio Cheveresan wrapped things up with 10 minutes left on the clock. After receiving the ball from Jameel, he dribbled through into the area before chipping Ergashev to go three goals to the good.