West Asia Domestic Wrap: Al Nassr go top in Saudi Arabia
Beirut: Reigning champions Al Nassr took a share of the Saudi Pro League standings lead with 2019 AFC Champions League finalists Al Hilal after defeating Al Faisaly last Thursday.
UAE Pro League defending champions Sharjah FC, meanwhile, continued their superb start by staying unbeaten while in Qatar, Al Sadd's woes continued as they suffered their second consecutive league defeat.
Join the-AFC.com we review the past week's domestic action in West Asian leagues.
There is still everything to play for, says Urawa's Otsuki
Riyadh: Head coach Tsuyoshi Otsuki isn't overly worried despite Urawa Red Diamonds falling to a 1-0 defeat against Al Hilal SFC in the first leg of the 2019 AFC Champions League final on Saturday.
Al Hilal were good value for the win and could have won by a bigger margin but the fact that, said Otsuki, the Saudi Arabia side didn't gives Urawa a fighting chance in the November 24 return leg in Saitama.
Final - 1st Leg: Al Hilal SFC (KSA) 1-0 Urawa Red Diamonds (JPN)
Riyadh: Andre Carrillo’s header was the difference as Al Hilal SFC secured a narrow 1-0 win over Urawa Red Diamonds in the first leg of the 2019 AFC Champions League at King Saud University Stadium on Saturday.
The hosts made their intentions clear from the start, controlling possession and building up pressure on their opponents, while Urawa kept a compact shape and looked to hit on the counter.
The first 20 minutes saw each side get a major opportunity, but heroic defending at both ends meant the goalkeepers would remain untested yet. Daisuke Suzuki threw his body to deflect Sebastian Giovinco’s shot 14 minutes into the game while Ali Al Bulayhi blocked Takahiro Sekine’s effort from inside the Al Hilal box three minutes later.
Kuala Lumpur: Head coach Bassem Marmar said Al Ahed FC's 2019 AFC Cup final triumph on Monday was for the people of Lebanon.
Marmar said he hoped Al Ahed's win - the first time a Lebanese club has won the AFC Cup - had put a smile on the faces of his compatriots.
"This win is for them and I really hope that we have brought happiness by winning the AFC Cup. We wanted so badly to win the Cup for the people of Lebanon and I am so happy that the players delivered," said Marmar.
Marmar’s half-time words inspired Al Ahed, says match-winner Yakubu
Kuala Lumpur: Issah Yakubu’s 74th minute goal steered Al Ahed to a historic AFC Cup title on Monday, an achievement the player attributed to head coach Bassem Marmar’s half-time pep talk.
The Beirut-based club gained an early advantage when 4.25 SC goalkeeper An Tae-song was given his marching orders for bringing down goal-bound Ahmad Zreik in the 26th minute, but despite that, Al Ahed struggled to find the net.
Yakubu revealed that Marmar’s words of encouragement during the break propelled Al Ahed past a defensive 4.25, and they saw the fruits of their labour in the 74th minute when the Ghanaian headed home Hussein Dakik’s cross.
Kuala Lumpur: Al Ahed FC became the first Lebanese club to win the AFC Cup, emerging as 1-0 winners over DPR Korea’s 4.25 SC in Monday’s final at Kuala Lumpur Stadium.
A second-half header from Issah Yakubu proved decisive for Bassem Marmar’s side, who navigated the entire knockout stage without conceding a goal on their way to a maiden Continental title.
Al Ahed spent much of the match in the ascendancy, with 4.25’s cause damaged by an early red card to goalkeeper An Tae-song, with Yakubu’s winner coming after a number of earlier chances had gone begging.