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Al Hilal 2-0 Al Ettifaq: Al Hilal set one foot in the quarter-finals

Al Hilal SFC claimed a crucial 2-0 victory over ten-man Al Ittihad in the first leg of their AFC Champions League™ 2023/24 quarter-final at Kingdom Arena on Tuesday.

The teams had previously met in the same stage in 2019, with Al Hilal advancing to the semi-finals with a 3-1 aggregate scoreline and ultimately winning the title.

Just four days after a 3-1 win over their domestic rivals in the Saudi Pro League at the same venue, Al Hilal displayed impressive form again, with Aleksandar Mitrovic returning to action after a suspension for the league match.

The hosts started strongly and almost took the lead within seven minutes when Salem Al Dawsari dribbled past two Al Ittihad defenders but narrowly missed the target with his close-range shot.

On the opposite end, Abderrazak Hamdallah attempted to score after receiving Fabinho’s pass, but goalkeeper Mohammed Al Owais denied him with a good save.

Al Hilal got an opportunity to open the scoring when Mitrovic was fouled inside the box by former Al Hilal full-back Madallah Al Olayan. Mitrovic converted the penalty confidently to make it 1-0 just before halftime.

Shortly after, Al Ittihad’s defense was breached again as Malcom set up Al Dawsari for a simple finish, doubling Al Hilal’s lead.

Al Ittihad faced further challenges in the second half when N’Golo Kante was sent off for a dangerous tackle on his former Chelsea teammate Kalidou Koulibaly.

Despite being down to ten men, Al Ittihad had a chance to score late in the game, but Al Owais made a fantastic save to deny Hamdallah’s shot.

The two teams will meet again at King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah next week, with the winners advancing to face either UAE’s Al Ain or fellow Saudi Arabia side Al Nassr in the semi-finals.

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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