Al-Hilal signal serious AFC Champions League intent with Ezequiel Cerutti signing

Argentine Ezequiel Cerutti has made the move from San Lorenzo to Riyadh giants Al-Hilal
Updated 31 January 2018
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Al-Hilal signal serious AFC Champions League intent with Ezequiel Cerutti signing

LONDON: Al-Hilal have signalled their intention to have another serious crack at the AFC Champions League by signing Argentine forward Ezequiel Cerutti.
Cerutti, 26, has joined from San Lorenzo where he has scored six goals in 48 games. No fee was mentioned in the official announcement by the Saudi Arabian giants but transferMarkt.com estimate his current value as £3.5 million ($4.9 million). 
Cerutti can play as a striker but he is likely to be deployed out wide after Salem Al-Dawsari moved to Villarreal as part of the recent deal between the General Sports Authority and the Liga du Futbol that saw Saudi Arabia players loaned out to Spanish clubs. Cerutti was expected to make his debut for Al-Hilal in Tuesday night’s Saudi Professional League clash over bottom club Al-Raed. But the new signing did not take part in the 2-1 win, a result that ended a three-match winless streak and eased the pressure on under-fire coach Ramon Diaz. 
The victory means Al-Hilal are still top of the table, two points clear of Al-Ahli, but their attention will soon turn to the AFC Champions League (ACL), a competition they reached the final of last season before being agonizingly downed over two legs by Japan’s Urawa Reds.
They kick off their ACL campaign on Feb. 13 at home against Al-Ain but Diaz has plenty to ponder before then, not least which of his seven foreign players to select for the competition.
Al-Hilal have the Brazilian Carlos Eduardo, Morocco’s Achraf Bencharki, Gelmin Rivas, of Venezuela, Uruguay’s Nicolás Milesi, Oman’s Ali Al-Habsi, Syria’s Omar Khribin and now Cerutti on their books, but they are only allowed to name four foreign players, including one Asian player. 
Diaz’s job is made slightly easier by the fact that Eduardo is ruled out with a long-term injury while Khribin is certain to be named after scoring ten goals in last season’s competition. It is also hard to imagine Cerutti not being named having only just signed. However, that still leaves Bencharki, Rivas, Milesi and Al-Habsi jostling for the two remaining spots.
Al-Hilal are in Group D along with Al-Rayyan, Esteghlal and Al-Ain. 
The signing also signals the desire of the club to look to foreign stars to bolster their squad as they look to tackle title-tilts on multiple fronts.


Al-Ain mount stunning comeback to reach FIFA Club World Cup quarters

Updated 13 December 2018
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Al-Ain mount stunning comeback to reach FIFA Club World Cup quarters

  • Al-Ain’s Sweden striker Marcus Berg came off the bench to score a dramatic 85th-minute equalizer, forcing extra time
  • It went to penalties, but despite a miss by Berg, Al-Ain won the shootout 4-3 to book a last-eight clash with Esperance

AL-AIN, United Arab Emirates: Home team Al-Ain fought back from three goals down to draw 3-3 with Team Wellington before winning on penalties to reach the Club World Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday.
The Emirati outfit fell 3-0 down inside 44 minutes as Mario Barcia, Aaron Clapham and Mario Ilich scored for Oceanian champions Wellington.
But Japanese international Tsukasa Shiotani pulled one back on the stroke of half-time, before Malian midfielder Tongo Doumbia grabbed a second goal less than four minutes into the second period.

And Sweden striker Marcus Berg came off the bench to score a dramatic 85th-minute equalizer, forcing extra time.
It went all the way to penalties, but despite a miss by Berg, Al-Ain won the shootout 4-3 to book a last-eight clash with CAF Champions League winners Esperance from Tunisia on Saturday.