Aggressive Al Nassr win first leg of AFC Champions League quarterfinal
The Saudi Arabian outfit post a 2-1 win over Al Sadd in a tightly contested match in Riyadh.
An aggressive Al Nassr reaped the rewards for their intent as they inflicted a 2-1 defeat on Qatar Stars League champions Al Sadd in the first leg of the AFC Champions League quarterfinal in Riyadh on Monday.
The Saudi Arabian club was the more dominant outfit and could have won by a bigger margin, but for many opportunities going astray. As it stands, Al Sadd came away with the consolation of an away goal to their credit and the realisation that it won’t be easy in the return leg on September 16 at home.
It was the first defeat for Sadd coach Xavi Hernandez in five matches. The game highlighted his team’s weaknesses in defence, which was under pressure almost from the start. Nassr, with a huge home crowd cheering them on at the King Fahd International Stadium, put Sadd under pressure but were stunned to see their goal falling in the 21st minute.
Abdulkarim Hassan’s quick transfer of the ball from the left to Hassan Al Haydos in the middle caught the Nassr defence napping. Haydos’ attempt to trap the ball only sent it rolling kindly to an unmarked Ali Asad on the right. He gleefully accepted the offer, firing his shot past goalkeeper Brad Jones.
Nassr recovered quickly and piled the pressure on Sadd, with Nordin Ambrabat, Abdulrahman Al Dossari and Giuliano leaving the defenders scrambling many a time. The hosts were level a minute from half-time when Al Dossari slotted home from close range after Giuliano’s corner came off Jung Woo-Young.
Sadd, sensing danger, attacked with vigour at the start of the second half but were soon put to shade by Nassr’s quick retorts. The visitors then conceded a silly goal to fall behind, with goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb deciding to stay rooted when a cross from Ambrabat came in from the left.
Feras Al Birakan headed it to Giuliano in the middle and the Brazilian had a free header in to fetch Nassr the lead in the 71st.
Sadd managed to keep Nassr from increasing that advantage and never stopped their search for an equaliser. But the Saudi outfit managed to nip them before they could turn dangerous and walked out to a huge ovation from the fans. Sadd, though beaten, will feel far from disgraced.