Al-Hilal get AFC Champions League campaign off to winning start at Al-Ain as Al-Ahli shock Al-Saad

The Riyadh giants celebrate the 1-0 win over UAE powerhouses Al-AIn. (Al-Hilal)
Updated 05 March 2019

Al-Hilal get AFC Champions League campaign off to winning start at Al-Ain as Al-Ahli shock Al-Saad

  • Riyadh giants impress in the UAE to get campaign off to great start.
  • Al-Ahli shock Qatar club Al-Saad as Al-Somah bags a brace.

LONDON: Mohammad Al-Shalhoub was the unlikely hero as Al-Hilal got their AFC Champions League campaign off to a winning start with a 1-0 victory at Al-Ain.
The Group C clash pitted two of the heavyweights of Middle East football against each other with Al-Hilal desperate to get their continental campaign off to a good start, having exited at the group stage this time last year.
But there was to be no early slip-up this time as the Riyadh giants snatched a well-earned win thanks to veteran Al-Shalhoub’s 65th-minute strike.
Al-Hilal were on top for most of the match and the pressure finally told when the club captain got on the end of a Mohamed Al-Buraik cross to fire into the top corner and give the visitors an advantage they would not relinquish.
Al-Ain’s woes were compounded in the final minute as captain Ismail Ahmed was shown the red card — a moment that summed up a miserable night for the UAE champions.
From the start Al-Hilal looked the brighter and more energetic and nearly grabbed the lead as early as the third minute when Carlos Eduardo pounced on a loose ball inside the box, forcing Khaled Eisa into making a good save.
Al-Ain’s one chance of the first-half came from a set piece with Japanese international Tsukasa Shiotani's free-kick narrowly off target in the fifth minute.
It was the Saudi Arabian champions who dominated possession and they finally made the pressure tell when Al-Shalhoub got the winner to ease Al-Hilal nerves.
There was little doubting the win came as a relief to a side still haunted by the calamitous campaign last year.
“A key win in the ACL race: 3 points in the bag. (It was a) good performance of the team in Al-Ain,” French striker Bafetimbi Gomis tweeted.
Elsewhere, Al-Ahli recorded a shock 2-0 win over Qatar’s Al-Saad. A brace from Omar Al-Somah was enough to beat the Qatar side who reached the Westside final last year
The Syrian striker was on fire and once again proved that when on form there are few in Asia that can match him in front of goal.


Messi wins third straight Golden Shoe as top league-goal scorer

Updated 16 October 2019

Messi wins third straight Golden Shoe as top league-goal scorer

  • Messi won the trophy for a third straight year

BARCELONA: Barcelona captain Leo Messi received his sixth Golden Shoe as the top scorer in the European leagues on Wednesday.

Messi won the trophy for a third straight year after scoring 36 goals, three more than his closest challenger, Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain.

Messi’s sons Thiago and Mateo, presented their father with the trophy supervised by his wife, Antonella Rocuzzo and watched by teammates, including Luis Suarez and Jordi Alba.

Messi dedicated the award “to my family, to my colleagues who are here. There are Luis and Jordi, who are two of the men to blame for this award.”

“Without my team, I could not even have won the award once.”

Messi now has two more Golden Shoes than his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo. Luis Suarez is one of nine players on two. The award was created in 1967 when it was won by Eusebio.