Saudi Arabia vs Qatar - A history of knockout stage encounters
Kuala Lumpur: Qatar’s Al Sadd are set to face Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal in the 2019 AFC Champions League semi-final next week, having overcome another Saudi opponent - Al Nassr – in the previous round and this will be the latest in a long series of Saudi-Qatari clashes in the competition’s knockout stages.
Although clubs from Saudi Arabia and Qatar have appeared in every single edition of the AFC Champions League since its inception in 2002-03, they managed to avoid facing-off in the knockout stages until 2009, but in the decade since, they have been pitted together on 10 occasions. The-AFC.com looks back at how each of these encounters panned out.
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With the round of 16 being introduced for the first time in 2009, the draw brought Al Hilal against debutants Umm Salal. A one-legged encounter at King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh ended goalless.
The Qataris got off to a bad start when captain Aziz ben Askar blasted the first spot-kick high, but goalkeeper Baba Malick came to the rescue, saving twice from Libyan midfielder Tarek El Taib and Mohammed Al Shalhoub, while Umm Salal scored their remaining attempts to reach the semi-finals at the first time of asking.
A year later, Al Hilal found themselves facing Qatari opponents once more - this time it was Al Gharafa standing in their way at the quarter-finals. The Saudis cruised to a 3-0 victory in Riyadh with Al Shalhoub opening the scoring to make amends for his missed penalty the previous year.
One of the greatest Saudi-Qatari matches took place in Doha a week later, with Al Gharafa delivering a miraculous comeback in the span of 42 minutes.
Regular time ended 3-0 for Al Gharafa and the two sides had to be separated by extra time. Iraqi legend Younis Mahmoud netted for Al Gharafa in the 102nd minute, but as the game looked headed for a Qatari victory, the home crowd were stunned by a two-minute double from Yasser Al Qahtani and Eisa Al Mehyani. At the final whistle, it was Al Hilal who celebrated reaching the semi-final.
The first time Al Sadd faced Saudi opponents in the AFC Champions League was the year they won the title. In the 2011 Round of 16, they played Al Shabab in a single leg at Jassim bin Hamad Stadium. A first-half header from defender Abdullah Kony settled the tie, sending Al Sadd into the next round and eventually all the way to title glory.
The 2013 draw threw not one, not two, but three Saudi-Qatari match-ups in the Round of 16. The Saudis prevailed in two of the three ties, with Al Ahli and Al Shabab joining Qatar’s Lekhwiya in the quarter-finals.
Al Ahli held El Jaish to a 1-1 draw in Doha before finishing the job in Jeddah thanks to goals from Bruno Cesar and Mustafa Bassas. Current Al Wahda striker Sebastian Tagliabue netted in both legs as Al Shabab defeated Al Gharafa 2-1 and 3-0, while Lekhwiya broke the pattern, eliminating Al Hilal after Youssef Msakni gave them a 1-0 victory in Riyadh and a 2-2 draw in Doha was enough to see them through.
Tuesday’s opponents Al Hilal and Al Sadd locked horn in a knock-out stage match for the first time in 2014; the year Al Hilal went all the way to the final. In front of 63,000 fans at King Fahd International Stadium, Salman Al Faraj netted the only goal of the quarter-final first leg as Al Hilal took a narrow win to Doha.
The following week, neither side was able to find the back of the net, but the Saudis were happy to take a one-goal aggregate margin that sent them through to the semi-finals.
Qatari opponents stood in Al Hilal’s way for a third year running, and once more it was Lekhwiya, the side that had knocked them out two years earlier. This time it was a quarter-final double-tie and the Saudis were hopeful of repeating their result from the previous year.
Just as he did two years earlier, Msakni scored in Riyadh, but Al Hilal were not to be stung again and a brace from Carlos Eduardo sealed a 4-1 victory in the first leg. The Brazilian was first to net a week later to calm any nerves and a 2-2 score in Doha meant it was Al Hilal who triumphed this time.
Having missed out on the previous two editions of the AFC Champions League, Al Sadd were back in contention and playing Saudi opponents again, this time Al Ahli in the Round of 16.
Boualem Khoukhi put in a man-of-the-match performance, bagging a brace while Mohanad Assiri’s second half strike lessened the impact, keeping the tie open at 2-1 in Doha. Top scorer Baghdad Bounedjah scored two minutes into the return leg, but Al Ahli responded with goals from Claudemir and Assiri. With 20 minutes to go and the aggregate score tied, it was Bounedjah who settled matters in the Qataris favour to send them to the semi-finals.
This year’s edition of the competition has already served us one mouthwatering Saudi-Qatari knockout double tie with another on the way.
Qatar Stars League champions Al Sadd travelled to Riyadh last month to face Saudi Pro League winners Al Nassr in the first leg of the quarter-finals. Ali Asad struck first for the visitors, but goals from Abdulrahman Al Dossari and Giuliano either side of the half-time break gave the Saudis a narrow advantage heading into the return fixture.
Akram Afif and Abderrazaq Hamdallah exchanged blows in the first 45 minutes at Jassim bin Hamad Stadium, leaving Al Nassr still in front at the break. Al Haydos levelled matters on aggregate at the hour mark and Bounedjah slotted from the spot seven minutes from time to set up a clash against Al Hilal in the semi-finals.
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