Sharjah have set up a winner-advances match with Iran Pro League champions Persepolis in their final group stage fixture to determine which of the two sides will progress to the knockout stages of the AFC Champions League 2020.
Sharjah thrashed Saudi Professional League side Al Taawoun 6-0 at the Education City Stadium in Doha on Monday, powered by a hat trick from 33-year-old Brazilian forward Welliton, to move level on points with 2018 ACL finalists Persepolis, who lost 1-0 to Qatar Stars League champions Al Duhail SC earlier in the day.
The Emirati club's impressive turnaround in ACL sees them climb to second place in the group with seven points after arriving in Qatar with just a single point from their first three continental clashes. The winner of Thursday's meeting between Sharjah and Persepolis will be guaranteed a place in the Round of 16.
The match between Sharjah and Al Taawoun was scoreless for most of the first half before Saif Rashid headed in an Igor Coronado set-piece just before the break. Welliton then registered his treble in the span of just 13 minutes to give Sharjah a 4-0 lead before substitute Mohammed Abdulbasit and former Kashima Antlers winger Caio Lucas Fernandes added to the tally.
In the earlier match, Al Duhail bounced back from a 4-2 defeat to Sharjah with a hard-earned 1-0 win over Iranian champions Persepolis. The result kept Duhail in control of whether they can advance in the tournament. They will need to avoid a loss to Al Taawoun on the final matchday.
Persepolis had gone into the match with back-to-back victories against Al Taawoun that propelled them to the top of the table, but it was the Qataris who emerged on top in Monday's contest thanks to a penalty from captain Almoez Ali who scored in his third-straight game.
Ali, 24, played a part in winning the penalty by lifting a ball over the backline for Edmilson Junior. Edmilson brought the ball down just inside the box while trying to compete with Shoja Khalilzadeh for the aerial delivery in the 57th minute. Ali blasted the ball into the back of the net with goalkeeper Hamed Lak rooted to the spot.
In Group D, last season's semifinalists Al Sadd joined Al Nassr in the knockout stages after the two sides played out a 1-1 draw before third-placed Sepahan saw their knockout hopes dashed after failing to collect all three points against Al Ain in the other game, which finished 0-0.
Al Sadd and Al Nassr had played out an entertaining 2-2 draw in their opening group fixture at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium in Riyadh last February before the suspension of the tournament.
After chances at both ends, it was the Saudi outfit who scored first in the 22nd minute when Khalid Al Ghannam latched on to a throw-in, raced to the byline, danced past Ro-Ro and beat Al Sadd goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb with a low drive from a tight angle.
That first-half goal looked to be the one that would clinch the game, but Baghdad Boundejah's left-foot strike beat former Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Jones in Al Nassr's goal with three minutes left and gave Xavi Hernandez's side a round-of-16 ticket.