Lucescu warns Al Hilal to brace for tougher campaign
Dubai: Al Hilal SFC head coach Razvan Lucescu believes his side should have registered a more emphatic result against Shahr Khodro as the defending champions started their 2020 AFC Champions League campaign with a 2-0 win at Al Wasl Stadium on Monday.
Goals from Andre Carrillo and Bafetimbi Gomis gave Al Hilal a perfect start to their title defence in Group B but Romanian Lucescu felt they should have scored more goals to add icing to a great performance.
Group B - MD1: Al Hilal SFC (KSA) 2-0 Shahr Khodro FC (IRN)
Dubai: Goals from Andre Carrillo and Bafetimbi Gomis either side of the half-time break earned Al Hilal SFC a 2-0 victory over Islamic Republic of Iran’s Shahr Khodro FC at Al Wasl Stadium as the Saudis got their AFC Champions League title defence off to a winning start on Monday.
Making their 16th appearance in the competition, Al Hilal wasted no time in taking the game to their debutant opponents’ half.
Inside the first 15 minutes, Yasser Al Shahrani had side-footed wide from Carillo’s cross and Giovinco threatened from distance, shooting just wide. Giovinco forced goalkeeper Mehdi Rahmati into a top drawer save at the half-hour mark as Shahr Khodro had to weather an avalanche of Saudi attacks.
Group B - MD1: Pakhtakor (UZB) 2-1 Shabab Al Ahli Dubai (UAE)
Tashkent: Goals from Jaloliddin Masharipov and Dragan Ceran helped Uzbekistan's Pakhtakor get their 2020 AFC Champions League Group B campaign off to a winning start with a 2-1 home victory over Shabab Al Ahli Dubai of the United Arab Emirates in a muddy Pakhtakor Stadium on Monday.
The hosts came into their first encounter against Shabab Al Ahli Dubai hoping to extend their six-match unbeaten home run in the competition.
Preview MD1 - Group C: Al Duhail SC (QAT) vs Persepolis FC (IRN)
Doha: Qatar’s Al Duhail welcome Islamic Republic of Iran’s Persepolis in a repeat of the 2018 AFC Champions League quarter-final as both sides look to get their 2020 campaign off to a positive start on Tuesday.
The two sides had locked horns two years earlier, with Almoez Ali’s strike the difference in the first leg, before two late goals at Azadi Stadium gave Persepolis the semi-final ticket with a 3-2 aggregate victory.
In 2019, both sides endured frustrating campaigns, albeit to different extents; Al Duhail were eliminated in the Round of 16 at the hands of arch-rivals Al Sadd, while Persepolis were unable to advance past the group stage, finishing bottom despite collecting seven points.
Preview MD1 - Group D: Al Ain FC (UAE) vs Sepahan FC (IRN)
Al Ain: Inaugural AFC Champions League winners Al Ain welcome Islamic Republic of Iran’s Sepahan to the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on the opening Group D matchday of the 2020 edition on Tuesday.
The hosts have struggled in recent times after the high of reaching the 2016 AFC Champions League final and the disappointment of losing to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. Last year, they finished bottom of their continental group with no points.
Preview MD1 - Group D: Al Nassr (KSA) vs Al Sadd SC (QAT)
Riyadh: Tuesday’s fixtures in the 2020 AFC Champions League Matchday One conclude with a heavyweight clash between Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr and Qatar’s Al Sadd at Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium.
The game is a repeat of last year’s quarter-final match-up, which saw Al Nassr bag a 2-1 win at home, but it was eventually Al Sadd who progressed after an emphatic 3-1 response in Doha in the second leg.