Kuala Lumpur: When it came to scoring goals during last season’s AFC Champions League, nobody shone quite as brightly as Al Hilal SFC favourite Bafétimbi Gomis.
Known for his predatory instincts and unique goal celebration, Gomis found the net 11 times for his club as the Saudi giants reigned supreme.
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Forever a team player, the French star’s efforts saw him finish as the competition’s leading scorer and claim the Most Valuable Player award. Just rewards indeed for a string of stellar displays and Gomis has just signed a two-year contract extension.
In the first of a new series of articles detailing goalscoring exploits in previous AFC competitions, join us as we rewind to Al Hilal’s 2019 bid for Continental glory, a campaign, throughout which, Gomis proved more than a handful for defences across Asia.
Goal #1 vs Al Duhail SC – Group Stage: March 12, 2019
Gomis registered the first of his 11 goals against Qatar’s Al Duhail in Riyadh. With 79 minutes on the clock, Nasser Al Dawsari’s neat dummy allowed Salem Al Dawsari’s pass to find the Frenchman. Bearing down on goal, Gomis rounded goalkeeper Amine Lecomte before firing a left-footed shot into the roof of the net. The 3-1 win kept Al Hilal at the top of the Group C standings.
Goal #2 vs Esteghlal FC – Group Stage: April 8, 2019
Goal number two came against Islamic Republic of Iran heavyweights Esteghlal on Matchday Three in the neutral venue of Qatar. In what turned out to be an enthralling encounter, the former Olympique Lyon ace found the target from close-range after Esteghlal defender Milad Zakipour had cleared Hassan Kadesh’s cross into his path. Al Hilal would, however, lose the match 2-1.
Goals #3 and #4 vs Al Duhail SC – Group Stage: May 20, 2019
With Al Hilal through to the Round of 16, Gomis doubled his 2019 tally by scoring twice in a 2-2 draw against Al Duhail on Matchday Six. His first came on 29 minutes when he reacted superbly after Al Duhail goalkeeper Khalifa Ababacar failed to adequately deal with Mohammed Kanno’s shot. Gomis was to complete his brace in the second half, this time stroking the ball home from fully 20 yards.
Goals #5, #6 and #7 vs Al Ahli Saudi FC – Round of 16, 1st Leg: August 6, 2019
Gomis’ fine form continued on his birthday as he bagged a hat-trick against domestic rivals Al Ahli. Having opened his account with an early header, one became two on 48 minutes – Al Hilal’s number 18 punishing an error from custodian Mohammed Al Owais. Gomis completed his treble in the 65th minute, holding off his marker and rifling a shot into the bottom corner.
Goals #8 and #9 vs Al Sadd SC – Semi-finals, 1st Leg: October 1, 2019
Despite failing to score against Al Ittihad in the last eight, normal service was resumed when Gomis netted twice in the first leg of the semi-final with Al Sadd – a game Al Hilal won 4-1. After putting through his own goal, Gomis made amends by converting Sebastian Giovinco’s cross to draw Al Hilal level and then notching his side’s third of the night thanks a typically smart close-range finish.
Goal #10 vs Al Sadd SC – Semi-finals, 2nd Leg: October 22, 2019
On a night of high drama in Riyadh, Gomis notched arguably his most important AFC Champions League 2019 goal. With Al Sadd 3-1 up after only 20 minutes, Gomis volleyed home a fine Giovinco pass to bag Al Hilal’s second of the game. The goal proved crucial as, despite Boualem Khoukhi’s late effort, the Saudi giants held on to win 6-5 on aggregate and seal their place in the final.
Goal #11 vs Urawa Red Diamonds – Final, 2nd Leg: November 24, 2019
Gomis concluded his campaign by sweeping the ball home at the end of a rapid breakaway move in the dying embers of the final’s second leg against Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds. Amid wild scenes of celebration, the goal – Al Hilal’s third in the title decider – provided a fitting end to an AFC Champions League adventure in which Gomis had emphatically underlined his hotshot credentials.
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