Al Hilal SFC complete last eight cast
Riyadh: Al Hilal SFC rounded off the eight teams in the 2019 AFC Champions League quarter-finals despite suffering a 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Al Ahli Saudi FC in the second leg of the Round of 16 on Tuesday. A 4-3 aggregate score means Al Hilal are set to face arch-rivals Al Ittihad in the next round.
Bringing to an end a five-match winless run in the AFC Champions League knock-out stage was a must if Al Ahli were to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 2013.
Furthermore, it needed to come with a three-goal difference to overturn the 4-2 defeat from the home first leg.
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The first chance of the game came 14 minutes in when Salman Al Faraj fouled Danijel Aleksic 30 yards from Al Hilal’s goal. The Serbian attempted a curled effort from the free-kick, but his shot went wide off target.
The hosts had to wait until the half-hour mark for their first sight at goal as Bafetimbi Gomis drove through Al Ahli’s defence before firing a left-footed shot from just outside the box, forcing goalkeeper Mohammed Al Owais into a fingertip save to push it behind for a corner.
It looked like the first half was headed for a goalless ending when Abdulfattah Asiri collected the ball from a poor defensive clearance, cut inside on his left and drilled a low strike that was deflected into the back of the net to the shock of goalkeeper Abdullah Al Mayouf who was left wrongfooted.
Cape Verdean international Djaniny nearly doubled Al Ahli’s lead a minute later. The winger dribbled past his marker inside the Al Hilal box and fired from an angle, but his shot ended up hitting the side netting.
Al Hilal came back from the break a different side and looked determined to keep Al Ahli at bay by means of keeping the ball in the opposition half, which they did well for extended periods of the half, limiting Al Ahli to a Souza long range effort that sailed wide early in the second half.
Captaining the side on his return from a lengthy injury, midfielder Salman Al Faraj came close to equalising for Al Hilal. He took a Sebastian Giovinco corner on the volley but watched the ball land behind the opposition goal in the 72nd minute.
Despite Al Ahli’s best efforts and four minutes of added time, there would be no more goals and Al Hilal sealed their place in the quarter-finals with the 4-3 aggregate victory.
The West Asia quarter-finals now take their full shape, with Al Hilal facing rivals Al Ittihad at King Abdullah Sport City Stadium in Jeddah on August 27 and at King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh three weeks later. Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr face Qatar’s Al Sadd in the other quarter-final tie.
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