Fahad Al Muwallad netted a brace as Al Ittihad came from behind to romp to a 5-1 victory over Qatar’s Al Rayyan at King Abdullah Sport City Stadium in Group B of the 2019 AFC Champions League on Monday.
The two sides wasted no time in getting into the thick of the action, with Khalid Al Samiri shooting wide for Al Ittihad and Lucca Borges seeing his effort saved inside two minutes.
Former Al Ittihad striker Gelmin Rivas embarked on a solo run and cut inside onto his left before shooting low into the arms of goalkeeper Fawaz Al Qarni.
The visitors opened the scoring halfway through the opening period. Korean midfielder Koh Myong-jin recovered an aerial ball in Al Ittihad’s half and the ball fell to Gonzalo Viera. The Uruguayan took it on the half-volley from well outside the box into the top corner.
Left-back Mansour Al Harbi responded with a long-range piledriver, but goalkeeper Fahad Younis was alert and made the save.
There was little Younis could do in the final minute of the first half when Al Muwallad and Abdulaziz Al Aryani exchanged a one-two sending the former through on goal. The Saudi international calmly placed his shot into the bottom corner to draw Al Ittihad level.
Before Al Rayyan could recover, Younis was picking the ball from the back of his net again. Al Aryani had turned from provider to scorer, converting Khaled Al Samiri’s squared pass past the wrongfooted goalkeeper to turn the tables on the Qataris just before the half-time break.
Coach Jose Luis Sierra’s men picked up from where they left off after the restart. Three minutes into the restart, substitute Carlos Villanueva sent an out-swinging cross from the corner for Al Harbi whose header was helped into the back of the net by fellow defender Ziyad Al Sahafi to make it 3-1.
The Tigers continued to push forward, and the Al Rayyan defence yielded to the sustained pressure once more in the 70th minute. Villanueva supplied a defence-splitting through pass to Al Muwallad who attempted to round Younis, but the Al Rayyan goalkeeper brought him down inside the box.
Abdulrahman Al Ghamdi stepped up and converted from the spot to heap more misery on the visitors from Qatar.
Al Muwallad added his second of the night and Al Ittihad’s fifth in the 78th minute. The forward was again set up by a Villanueva through pass, and this time he applied a composed left-footed finish into the bottom corner to round off the scoring.
The result is Al Ittihad’s biggest win in the AFC Champions League since the 6-2 win over Japan’s Nagoya Grampus Eight in the 2009 semi-final.
The Saudi club travel to the UAE to face Al Wahda on Matchday Two, while Al Rayyan host PFC Lokomotiv next week.