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Al Hilal players reflect on a crazy night

Riyadh: Tuesday night brought Al Hilal a mix of disappointment at the heavy defeat at home and joy for reaching the 2019 AFC Champions League final.

There were calls to celebrate, apologies and careful reflections as Al Hilal players took to social media after a night that saw them suffer a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Qatar's Al Sadd; one of the heaviest home losses of the Blues' AFC Champions League history. But it was also a night when they secured a ticket to the competition's final for the third time in six years.

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Salem Al Dawsari was one of the few bright spots for his side on the night, opening the scoring within the first quarter of an hour and posing a constant threat on the Qatari defence. The winger was upbeat in his tone as he took to Twitter to congratulate Al Hilal fans while also promising a better performance next time.

Al Dawsari rallied the fans to stand behind the team as they prepare to face archrivals Al Nassr in the Saudi Pro League before hosting the first leg of the 2019 AFC Champions League final on November 9.

Central midfielder Abdullah Otayf started on Tuesday instead of the suspended Mohammed Kanno and was far from his best. The 27-year-old offered an apology for his own and the team's performance. "I apologise for appearing in this way," said Otayf. "I have always taken strength from your support and now I will also regain strength with your criticism and backing."

Club captain and most experienced player, Mohammed Al Shalhoub called on Al Hilal fans to put the result behind them. "Many congratulations to the best fans," said the veteran. "Rejoice and forget about what happened. We are in the final and will march on to win the trophy!"

Despite conceding four on the night, goalkeeper Abdullah Al Mayouf was hailed as a hero by Al Hilal fans, particularly for saving Nam Tae-hee's free-kick which was effectively the last kick of the game. He issued a rallying cry for the final. "Many congratulations and thank you for your support. Please continue supporting us more and more all the way to the title.

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