AFC Champions League - Group D: Al Ain 2-1 Al Hilal SFC

Published April 2nd, 2018 - 09:20 GMT
Al-Ain's forward Ahmed Khalil (C) and midfielder Caio (R) vie for the header with Al-Hilal's defender Mohammed Al-Breik during the AFC Champions League football match between UAE's al-Ain and Saudi's al-Hilal at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al-Ain, on April 2, 2018.
KARIM SAHIB / AFP
Al-Ain's forward Ahmed Khalil (C) and midfielder Caio (R) vie for the header with Al-Hilal's defender Mohammed Al-Breik during the AFC Champions League football match between UAE's al-Ain and Saudi's al-Hilal at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al-Ain, on April 2, 2018. KARIM SAHIB / AFP

Last year's runners-up, Al Hilal SFC, were eliminated from the 2018 AFC Champions League group stage for the first time since 2006 after a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Al Ain thanks to a brace from Marcus Berg on Matchday Five of Group D.

The visitors got off to the perfect start, taking an early lead when Mohammed Al Burayk fired a curling free-kick from 25 yards out that nestled into the top corner of goalkeeper Khalid Eisa's net seven minutes into the game.

Despite the shaky start, Al Ain regrouped and started to threaten. Their first real sight of goal came in the 20th minutes when Omar Abdulrahman produced a brilliant pass to Marcus Berg right, but the Swede's attempt was cleared off the goal line by Al Burayk.

Al Hilal's defender Mohammed Jahfali was penalised after a reckless tackle on Abdulrahman inside the 18-yards-box, but Al Ain's number 10 failed to deliver from the spot as goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi was quick to make the save in the 24th minute.

Five minutes before the break, Abdulrahman was brought down in the box by defender Ali Al Bulayhi and Berg stepped up to take the penalty, successfully levelling the score.

Al Ain kept the pressure on their opponents and there was still time for them to be awarded a third penalty of the night before half-time when Rayan Yslam was fouled by Fahad Al Rashidi, and Berg was once again clinical to net his side's second in added time.

After the break, the Saudi side took control and tried to grab an equaliser, while Al Ain defended deep and looked to hit on the counter. They came closest when Berg was denied a hat-trick by the crossbar after chipping Caio Fernandes' cross over Al Habsi.

Al Ain's Mohammed Abdulrahman received his marching orders with a second yellow card after a late challenge on Al Rashidi in the first minute of the added time.

The result means Al Ain now face Al Rayyan in Qatar in a direct battle for the group's second Round of 16 ticket, after Islamic Republic of Iran's Esteghlal secured their progress and Al Hilal lost their final hope of competing for a Knockout Stage qualification.

Source: The AFC

You may also like