Al Sadd lose to Al Hilal in AFC Champions League first-leg semifinal


Qatar’s Al Sadd went down fighting to Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal 1-4 after taking the lead in their AFC Champions League first-leg semifinal on Tuesday.

In front of loudly-cheering, large crowd at the Al Sadd Stadium, the hosts lost steam after making a solid start, especially after losing left-back Abdelkarim Hassan to a red card in the 35th minute.

The Wolves now face a tougher task when they play the return leg in Riyadh on October 22.

The hosts got their first clear-cut chance within just eight minutes when a corner kick for Al Hilal was turned into a swift counter-attack, thanks to Akram Afif’s vision.

The midfielder collected the ball on the edge of his own penalty box, supplying it to Baghdad Bounedjah on the wide before charging on a 50-yard run to get on the end of the Algerian’s cross at the other side of the pitch, but his left-footed finish was thwarted by goalkeeper Abdullah Al Mayouf, who had a field day.

The home fans were sent into raptures at the quarter-hour mark as Afif’s short corner saw the ball being exchanged between Hassan Al Haydous and Nam Tae-Hee. Al Haydous drilled the ball across the mouth of goal and Bafetimbi Gomis’ desperate attempt to clear it ended with it in the back of his own net to gift Al Sadd an early lead.

Al Sadd were punished for a defensive mistake in the 33rd minute as Tarek Salman’s sideways pass placed Boualem Khoukhi under pressure inside his area, allowing Andre Carillo to intercept the ball and cross for Sebastian Giovinco who sent the ball back across the mouth of goal for Gomis who was left with a simple finish from close range to level the score.

Xavi’s men suffered another blow just two minutes later as Abdelkarim Hassan was booked for a late challenge, then instantly sent off for excessively protesting the decision.

The hosts’ misery was compounded in the last minute of first half as a Giovinco corner was nodded on by Gomis for Ali Bulayhi at the far post. The centre-back rose highest to head home from point-blank.

Taking advantage of Al Sadd’s numerical disadvantage, Al Hilal dominated the second half and took the game to their opponents.

Yasser Al Shahrani made a smart run to find space down the left and cross into the six-yard box. Gomis applied physical pressure on Salem Al Hajri, forcing him to make contact with the ball, sending it into his own net to make it 3-1 for Al Hilal at the hour mark.

Ten minutes after his introduction to replace Giovinco, Mohammed Al Shalhoub collected Mohammed Kanno’s squared pass and expertly placed it into the bottom corner for Al Hilal's fourth goal in the 67th minute.