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Al Ain 1-0 Al Nassr: Ronaldo and Laporte disappoint as Al Nassr falls short

Al Ain FC secured a crucial 1-0 lead against Al Nassr in the AFC Champions League™ 2023/24 quarter-final at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on Monday, courtesy of Soufiane Rahimi’s goal in the first half.

Soufiane Rahimi scored for Al Ain at home as they faced off Al Nassr in the quarter-finals of the AFC Champions League. The two teams will clash again in Riyadh next week, with the winners on aggregate advancing to face either Al Hilal SFC or Al Ittihad in the semi-finals.

Al Nassr started the game aggressively, creating two early chances within the first three minutes. Sadio Mane and Otavio combined effectively, with Mane delivering a cross from the left and Otavio attempting a header, only to be denied by Kouame Autonne. Moments later, Otavio’s cross found Mane, whose shot was saved by goalkeeper Khaled Eisa.

The stadium erupted with excitement just before the half-hour mark when Rahimi broke free down the right flank and delivered a low cross to Kaku. The Paraguayan forward finished emphatically into the roof of the net, but the celebration was short-lived as a VAR review overturned the goal due to Rahimi being offside before providing the assist.

In the final minute of the first half, Al Ain seized the lead once again as Kaku and Yahya Nader linked up. This time, Kaku received Nader’s pass and delivered a precise through ball to Rahimi. Rahimi skillfully evaded goalkeeper David Ospina and calmly slotted the ball into the empty net to give the hosts the lead.

Al Nassr vs Al Ain: Will Ronaldo be able to make an impact in the return leg?!

Cristiano Ronaldo had his first opportunity of the game in the 53rd minute when Ayman Yahya delivered a cross from the right flank. However, under pressure from Al Ain captain Bandar Al Ahbabi, Ronaldo failed to make solid contact with the ball and sent his shot skyward.

Al Nassr came agonizingly close to equalizing with 12 minutes remaining. Sadio Mane nodded Ali Lajami’s cross from the right back across the goalmouth for Sami Al Naji, who struck the ball first time but narrowly missed the target.

Minutes later, Eisa made a crucial save to deny Ronaldo his sixth AFC Champions League goal. The Al Ain goalkeeper reacted swiftly, displaying sharp reflexes to block Ronaldo’s close-range effort after Yahya delivered a cross from the left.

Al Nassr’s frustrating visit to the United Arab Emirates ended with a red card deep into stoppage time. After a VAR review, defender Aymeric Laporte was shown a red card for elbowing Al Ahbabi while contesting inside the box.

Ethan Dempsey
Ethan Dempsey
Ethan is a lifelong football fan. When he is not obsessing over the Premier League games, Ethan likes to read fantasy tomes, watch football documentaries and waste hours upon hours on video games.
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