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Saudi Arabia’s Hilal Edge Al Nassr to Reach ACL Final

Saudi Arabia’s Hilal Edge Al Nassr to Reach ACL Final

Wednesday, 20 October, 2021 - 04:15
Al Hilal stayed on course for a second AFC Champions League title in three years with a tense 2-1 semi-final victory over rivals Al Nassr. (SPA)

Saudi giants Al Hilal stayed on course for a second AFC Champions League title in three years with a tense 2-1 semi-final victory over cross-city rivals Al Nassr on Tuesday.


Mali striker Moussa Marega and Saudi international Salem al-Dawsari struck either side of the break in Riyadh to set up a title clash with either Pohang Steelers or Ulsan Hyundai of South Korea who meet in the second-semi-final of the tournament on Wednesday.


Al Hilal and Al Nassr have clashed on numerous occasions domestically but the magnitude of a crucial continental clash was not lost on them as both teams made a cautious start at the King Saud University Stadium in the Saudi capital.


The first notable chance fell Al Hilal’s way but al-Dawasari failed to take advantage of the opportunity by firing wide from the edge of the box after receiving a pass from Matheus Pereira.


Al Hilal were not to be denied for long though as Marega scored his first goal of the tournament in the 17th minute.


Mohamed al-Burayk found Bafetimbi Gomis with a long pass and the 36-year-old Frenchman deftly steered the ball for Marega who made no mistake with a right-footed shot to the bottom left corner of the post.


Al Nassr raised their game a notch after that but were dealt a body blow when defender Ali Lajami was sent-off seconds before half-time for a foul on Marega.


Despite the setback Al Nassr managed to hold their own and found the equalizer five minutes after the break with Anderson Talisca heading home from close from a cross by Abdulfattah Asiri following a corner.


Sultan al-Ghanem and Talisca missed chances thereafter for Al Nassr and soon Al Hilal wrested control once again with al-Dawasri scoring his third goal of the knockouts, his chip taking a slight deflection off Abdulla Madu before finding the net.


Al Hilal survived several anxious moments after that with Abderrarazak Hamdallah an Abdulla Madu missing chances in stoppage time.


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