AFC Champions League Player of the week: Al Rayyan SC's Rodrigo Tabata steps up on Matchday 3

Reigning champions of Qatar, Al Rayyan SC, were very much in desperate need of a win when they hosted Iran's Persepolis on matchday 3 of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League Group D on 14th March 2017 in Doha.

Having surrendered the advantage of an opening round win by falling to a surprise defeat at the hands of Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia, the Michael Laudrup-coached team had no option but to win against Persepolis who were undefeated coming into this game.

A strong start was paramount for the team and the players needed to step up. One man who certainly did that was Al Rayyan's Spanish attacking midfielder Rodrigo Barbosa Tabata.

The 36-year-old was already in good form, having scored a goal in the previous match against Al Hilal. He followed it up on Tuesday with two more goals and a brilliant assist as his team notched a 3-1 victory on the night that put them atop of Group D again.

Having seen his team get off to a horror start as Mehdi Taremi put Persepolis ahead as early as in the sixth minute, Tabata decided to put his mark on the game. His first goal was a classic striker's goal. Having received the ball inside the box, he rifled a low shot in past the Persepolis goalkeeper.

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He would then convert a penalty awarded for a foul on Jalal Hosseini in the second half to put Al Rayyan into the lead before setting up the Sergio Garcia late on with an accurate free-kick which was headed in.

Tabata was a constant presence throughout the game for Al Rayyan and a menace for the Persepolis defence who failed to deal with his movement and intelligence and often ended up fouling him. In fact, he won eight fouls for his team with some of them in dangerous areas.

He was a constant and ready outlet whenever Al Rayyan wanted to move into attacking areas and his range of passing and wealth of experience made the difference for Michael Laudrup.

The Spaniard enjoyed 89 touches of the ball and played 46 passes with an accuracy rate of 78 per cent which showed the veteran midfielder's level of involvement and influence, which makes him our AFC Champions League player of the week.




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