Lucescu: Al Hilal must improve
Riyadh: Al Hilal SFC head coach Razvan Lucescu admitted his side were not at their best in Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat to rivals Al Ahli Saudi FC in the second leg of the 2019 AFC Champions League Round of 16.
Abdulfattah Asiri’s 42nd minute strike was the difference at the final whistle at King Saud University Stadium, but a 4-2 victory in Jeddah a week earlier ensured Al Hilal progressed to the quarter-finals for the seventh time in their history.
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The 4-3 aggregate win set up a last-eight tie against another domestic rival, Al Ittihad, and Lucescu believes his side needs to be much better, especially in attack, in the next stage.
“The result of the first leg had a big impact on our performance tonight, I have no doubt about that,” said the 50-year-old."
“I am not satisfied with the way we played here. We need to improve, especially in attack.
"We struggled with the final touch and wasted some easy opportunities, but defensively we were solid despite the goal. The most important thing for me is that we qualified."
A cagey affair saw seven yellow cards brandished, including three in the dying minutes of the game for striker Bafetimbi Gomis and substitutes Nasser Al Dawsari and Hattan Bahebri, but Lucescu dismissed that sort of physicality as natural.
“I am not too concerned with the yellow cards; physical contact is a natural part of the game and Al Ahli were very physical."
“They came into the game with a more adventurous mindset and pressed high which made it more difficult for us to build from the back, which we had done so well in the first leg, so instead we had to play long balls."
Al Ittihad will host the first leg of the quarter-finals on August 27 in Jeddah with the return leg on September 17 in Riyadh.
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