Titleholder Al-Hilal cruises into ACL quarterfinals

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Titleholder Al-Hilal defeated Shabab Al-Ahli of the United Arab Emirates 3-1 to give Saudi Arabia two teams in the quarterfinals of the Asian Champions League on Monday.

In its first game since losing to Real Madrid 5-3 in the Club World Cup final nine days previously, Al-Hilal had too much firepower for the team from Dubai, led by former coach Leonardo Jardim.

Odion Ighalo, who arrived in Saudi Arabia from Manchester United in 2021, opened the scoring after 17 minutes in Al Wakrah. South Korean defender Jang Hyun-soo added a second with 18 minutes remaining and Luciano Vietto sealed the win soon after.

Syrian striker Omar Khribin bagged a consolation for Al-Ahli.

Al-Hilal joined local rival Al-Shabab in the last eight. Also from Riyadh, Al-Shabab defeated FC Nasaf of Uzbekistan 2-0 on Sunday. Saudi Arabia was denied a third representative in the next round after Al-Faisaly lost to Foolad 1-0 in Doha. Sasan Ansari's goal gave the Iranian team the win.

In the remaining fixture in the western zone of the round of 16, Al-Duhail defeated Qatar rival Al-Rayyan 7-6 in a penalty shootout after the game ended 1-1.

The western zone quarterfinals — also in Qatar — will take place on Thursday and the semifinal three days later. The victor will meet Urawa Reds of Japan in April’s final.


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The Associated Press