Asian champions Al Sadd held their nerve to take third place at the Club World Cup on Sunday as they won their play-off against Japanese side Kashiwa Reysol 5-3 on penalties.
Nadir Belhadj, who also scored the decisive penalty in a shoot-out in the AFC Champions League final last month, was again the hero for the side from Qatar as he scored their fifth after the game ended 0-0 after 90 minutes.
Al Sadd coach Jorge Fossati said it was a great day for football in Qatar, especially because it came on its national day.
“It’s historical, no team from Al Sadd or Qatar has ever achieved third place,” he said. “We are the third best club team in the world. We are at a level just under Santos and Barcelona (the finalists).
“We are happy to take this souvenir from Japan to Qatar.”
His opposite number Nelsinho was left to rue several missed chances.
“We didn’t make the most of the opportunities,” he said. “But this tournament will give us confidence for next year. We can hold our heads up high.”
The clash went to spot kicks after a low-key game that ended in a goalless stalemate — there was no extra-time — and never really hit the heights.
The first real chances of the match did not come until mid-way through the first half, when Kashiwa threatened three times in quick succession including a snap shot by midfielder Junya Tanaka that smacked an Al Sadd post.
Moments later the Qatari side might have taken the lead on the break, but Mamadou Niang saw his powerful shot parried by Takanori Sugeno, who 10 minutes before half-time also denied Abdul Kader Keita.
The second half took on a similar theme, the Japanese side having most of the ball without really creating any concrete openings and Al Sadd defending in numbers while looking to counter-attack at International Stadium Yokohama.
Niang might have grabbed a winner in the dying minutes, but his shot was deflected and the ball looped over the bar, sending the contest to penalties.