Al-Hilal show AFC Champions League potential with victory over Al-Duhail

Gomis was once again in fine form for Al-Hilal. (AFP)
Updated 14 March 2019

Al-Hilal show AFC Champions League potential with victory over Al-Duhail

  • Riyadh giants make it two from two with victory over Qatar club.
  • Al-Hilal looking good to exit group stage having fallen at first hurdle last year.

RIYADH: Bafetimbi Gomis and Sebastian Giovinco starred as Riyadh giants Al-Hilal grabbed a 3-1 victory over Qatari champions Al-Duhail to take top spot in Group C of the AFC Champions League on Tuesday.
Al-Duhail’s new signing Shoya Nakajima’s 75th-minute strike had canceled out a first-half Carlos Eduardo goal, but Ali Al-Bulayhi put the hosts ahead again in the 77th minute, chesting the ball over the line from Italy international Giovinco’s corner at the King Saud University Stadium in Saudi Arabian capital.
Rui Faria’s men barely had time to regroup before former Lyon and Swansea City striker Gomis made it 3-1 in the 79th minute, rounding goalkeeper Amine Lecomte and firing into the roof of the net after a pass from Salem Al-Dawsari.
The win gave two-time champions Al-Hilal top spot in the group with six points, following their opening victory over the UAE’s Al-Ain 1-0 last week.
In Group D, Al-Sadd pipped Iran’s Persepolis 1-0 for their first victory with Baghdad Bounedjah scoring a dramatic winner five minutes into injury time.
Al-Sadd dominated proceedings but poor finishing let them down at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium before last year’s top scorer Bounedjah came to the hosts’ rescue.
The Algerian striker, who had a goal disallowed for offside earlier in the game, rose above the defense to nod home after Abdelkarim Hassan had headed the ball in his direction following a free-kick.
The victory helped 2011 champions Al-Sadd get back on track after they were beaten by Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ahli 2-0 in the opening week.
Al-Ahli, meanwhile fell to a 1-0 defeat by Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor in Tashkent, with Marat Bikmaev scoring the winner with a fine free-kick in the 62nd minute.
Pakhtakor took top spot in Group D with four points, having drawn their first match against Persepolis.
Iran’s Esteghlal and Al-Ain played out a 1-1 draw earlier on Tuesday.


South Korea football team departs for World Cup qualifier in Pyongyang

Updated 14 October 2019

South Korea football team departs for World Cup qualifier in Pyongyang

BEIJING: South Korean footballers departed for Pyongyang on Monday to play a World Cup qualifier against North Korea amid deadlocked talks over the North’s nuclear arsenal.
The teams — with Tottenham’s star forward Son Heung-min included in the South Korean squad — are expected to face each other at the Kim Il Sung Stadium on Tuesday.
This will be the first competitive men’s game between the two sides to be held in Pyongyang, and has raised hopes for new momentum in ties between the two Koreas.
But Pyongyang refused to hold direct talks with Seoul on the logistics for the match, denying South Korean fans and journalists permission to travel with the team.
South Korean players said the absence of cheering fans will be a first.
“It’s much better to play in a packed stadium rather than an empty one, but I think we’ll be able to play a good match if we use it as motivation,” said defender Kim Min-jae before boarding a flight to Pyongyang at Beijing airport.
The South Korean footballers were accompanied by a delegation of 55 people, limited to players, coaches and staff.
Broadcasters in the South said that plans to air the match live had fallen apart, with some media reporting that there may be attempts to carry the North Korean feed.
The match comes in the wake of a series of North Korean missile tests that raised tensions in the region, and after the breakdown of talks with the United States over Pyongyang’s weapons programs.