Al Ain (UAE), Dec 13: Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates made a thrilling comeback after beating Team Wellington of New Zealand 4-3 on penalties in the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup play-off, advancing to a quarter-final clash with Esperance Sportive of Tunisia.
The 2018 OFC Champions League winner Wellington shocked Al Ain with three goals in the first half here on Wednesday, while the 2017-2018 UAE Pro-League champion rallied back to a 3-3 tie that lasted during the extra time at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, reports Efe.
Argentine midfielder Mario Barcia opened the scoring for Wellington on a long-range effort that went past Al Ain keeper Khalid Eisa, just 11 minutes into the game.
Four minutes later, New Zealand playmaker Andrew Bevin made a second assist, setting his countryman Aaron Clapham up for the second goal in a close-range finish.
Midfielder Mario Ilich gave Wellington a 3-0 lead, one minute before the first-half stoppage time, as he finished a corner-kick cross by teammate Henry Cameron.
The host side showed more drive and solidarity, and managed to get on the scoreboard in the first minute of the stoppage time, thanks to its Japanese left-back Tsukasa Shiotani’s right-footed shot after dribbling past Wellington’s defence.
After the intermission, Brazilian forward Caio sent a cross-pass from the left side, to which Malian midfielder Tongo Doumbia connected, sending the ball home for Al Ain’s 3-2 goal in the 49th minute.
In the closing minutes, Swedish striker Marcus Berg, who entered into the field as a substitute, netted the 3-3 equalizer for Al Ain on a close-range volley, making use of Ibrahim Diaky’s assist.
The 3-3 draw lasted during the extra time, so the winner had to be decided by penalty shoot-out where a brilliant performance by Al Ain goalkeeper Eisa saved two penalty shots to lead his side to win 4-3.