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Al-Ain Eliminate Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr 3-1 on Penalties in the AFC Champions League Quarterfinals

Al-Ain Eliminate Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr 3-1 on Penalties in the AFC Champions League Quarterfinals

Down big against first-placed Al-Hilal in the Saudi Pro League, the only possible trophy up for grabs for Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr this season will be the continental AFC Champions League, where the Saudi outfit had to face Al-Ain from the UAE Pro League in order to reach the semifinal of the top-tiered Asian club football competition.

Last night’s contest in the AFC Champions League Last 8 was full of drama and tension, as the Ronaldo-led Al-Nassr, who suffered a 1-0 defeat in the first leg, went on tie things up at 4-4 after going 3-0 behind in the aggregate score in the opening half of the returning leg in Riyadh, before the Saudi side lost to their Arabian counterparts in the cruel penalty shootout.


Seven-Goal Thriller Between Al-Nassr and Al-Ain in the AFC Champions League Last 8 Second Leg

Al-Ain of course won the first leg of the AFC Champions League Quarterfinals on top of Soufiane Rahimi’s 44th-minute winner against the 10-man Al-Nassr side that lost ex-Manchester City centre-back Aymeric Laporte during the second half stoppage time, and the 1-0 advantage was soon turned into 3-0 lead in the opening 45 minutes of the returning leg, courtesy of another couple of goals by the 27-year-old Moroccan forward Rahimi. The no. 21 player first beat the offside trap and squeezed his shot to the far post from the left flank in the 28th minute, followed by a wonderful long-ranged goal just outside the penalty box prior to the first-half injury time.

The game looked to be Al-Ain cruising into the next round of the continental competition without difficulties of any sorts, but Ronaldo’s team would storm back into the game in superb fashion. During the opening-half stoppage time, Sadio Mané fired a shot into the unguarded net, and his loose effort was aided by Abdulrahman Ghareeb’s touch, who made the overall score 3-1 at this point. Not long after the restart, Portuguese midfielder Otávio delivered a cross into the penalty box and the goalkeeper tried to hold onto the ball, only to see it deflected into the back of the net for Al-Nassr’s equaliser in the second leg.

Al-Nassr completed their comeback in the overall tie versus Al-Ain in the AFC Champions League Quarterfinals when Alex Telles curled in a 72nd-minute free kick from the left flank. The former Manchester United left-back pretend to whipped in a cross to find a teammate inside the dangerous zone, but the ball skipped everyone, making it difficult for the shot stopper Khalid Eisa to spot and he had no choice but to pick the ball behind the net for the third time in this match.

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Al-Ain Knocked Out Al-Nassr on Penalties to Reach ACL Last 4

There was no way to separate both teams in 90 minutes, meaning extra time has to be given to decide the AFC Champions League semifinalists, and a goal each by the contestants during this period would push the game to penalties. Sultan Al-Shamsi forced Raghed Al-Najjar to commit a howler when the goalkeeper was not able to keep the ball during a cross by the Al-Ain player, and the goal gave Al-Ain another lead in this game, until a penalty awarded to Al-Nassr provided a lifeline. Ronaldo was the responsible penalty taker in the 118th minute, and the ex-Real Madrid and Juventus striker would send the goalkeeper to the wrong way to make it 4-4 on aggregate.

Marcelo Brozović was the first penalty taker, but the ex-Inter Milan midfielder missed his chance, allowing Rahimi to punish the home team with his successful conversion. Brozović’s teammate and another former European club football player also went unfruitful in his attempt, and the same unfortunate turn of event for Al-Nassr once again capitalised by Al-Ain in the form of Alejandro Romero. Ronaldo once again showed his calmness in scoring his second penalty of the evening, but this did not prevent Al-Ain to restore their two-goal lead in the shootout following Al-Shamsi’s spot kick. The last straw that broke the camel’s back for Al-Nassr was Otávio’s miss, as it led Al-Ain to the ACL Last 4 as a result.

In Another AFC Champions League Game: N’Golo Kanté Sent Off for His Reckless Challenge in Al-Ittihad’s 2-0 Defeat to Al-Hilal in the AFC Champions League


Luis Gastro on His Possible Dismissal by Al-Nassr Following Al-Ain’s Penalty Shootout Loss

In the aftermath of Al-Nassr’s penalty shootout upset by Al-Ain, the losing manager Gastro took to the post-match conference to voice out his thoughts over the AFC Champions League Quarterfinal game: “These were difficult moments for us. We fought in the match and won, but we lost on penalties. We made 30 attacks and in the second half we were tactically better. In football, results are the most important, and we had to do with individual mistakes.”

The elimination in the Last 8 of the AFC Champions League and the huge point deficit in the Saudi Pro League could lead the 62-year-old Portuguese head coach to dismissal at the end of the current campaign, in which the former FC Porto and FC Shakhtar Donetsk manager had no problem in accepting that possible end of his managerial tenure at Al-Nassr. “I have no problem with Al-Nassr club dismissing me. I have 27 years of coaching experience, and I have not left a single team in the middle of the season,” remarked Gastro during the post-match conference.

Following the AFC Champions League disappointment, Ronaldo’s and Gastro’s Al-Nassr will be heading to King Abdullah Sports City to meet Al-Ahli Saudi FC on Matchday 24 of the Saudi Pro League, a competition where the team in yellow jerseys have not had successes in the past two games, having drawn and lost once in recent times. Al-Ain, on the other hand, have Ajman Club at Ajman Stadium on the cards for the next league fixture in the UAE Pro League. Remember to catch all these games live via AsiaSport if you have not tried their unparalleled live stream services already!

Steven Mosier

"Eat, breathe and sleep sports" is the life motto of mine. My professional athlete career ended way earlier than I thought, but the passion remains till the present, which is why I am here writing you all the sports news you crave! Also, I am a huge fan of the Premier League as well the NBA.

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