Soccer-Al-Hilal overcome Al-Dawsari's penalty woes to progress in Asian Champions League


  • Football
  • Wednesday, 29 Nov 2023

Soccer Football - Asian Champions League - Group D - Nassaji Mazandaran v Al Hilal - Azadi Stadium, Tehhran, Iran - October 3, 2023 Al Hilal players pose for a team group photo before the match Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS/File Photo

(Reuters) - Four-times winners Al-Hilal confirmed their place in the last 16 of this year's Asian Champions League on Tuesday after the Saudi Pro League side beat Uzbekistan's Navbahor 2-0 despite a pair of missed penalties from Salem Al-Dawsari.

The win for the visitors at Markaziy Stadium in Namangan takes Al-Hilal onto 13 points from five games in Group D and the Saudi club's better head-to-head record over Navbahor means Jorge Jesus' side cannot be supplanted at the summit.

Al-Dawsari, who was recently named the Asian Football Confederation's Player of the Year, endured a miserable night from the penalty spot, missing the opportunity to put Al-Hilal in front in the 11th minute.

The Saudi Arabia international dragged that spot kick wide before squandering a second opportunity from 12 yards at the other end midway through the second half.

Navabhor goalkeeper Utkir Yusupov kept out the second attempt, but substitute Malcom latched onto the rebound to score with his first touch having been introduced from the bench moments earlier.

Al-Dawsari managed to redeem himself with five minutes remaining, however, scoring with a perfectly judged lob from outside the area that sailed over the head of Yusupov to seal the win for Al-Hilal.

While Al-Hilal have secured the group's one guaranteed place in the next round, Navbahor are still in contention for one of the three best runners-up berths in the next phase.

Samvel Babyan's side will take on Mumbai City, who lost 2-0 to Iran's Nassaji Mazandaran on Tuesday in a clash between the group's two eliminated teams in Tehran, in their final group game.

Meanwhile, Uzbek side Pakhtakor handed already qualified Al-Ain of the United Arab Emirates a 3-1 defeat in Group A to boost their hopes of one of the runners-up spots in the next round.

Eisa Khalfan had given Al-Ain the lead in their first game in the competition under new coach Hernan Crespo but Hojimat Erkinov struck twice after the interval and Dragan Ceran added a third to earn Pakhtakor all three points.

The win takes Maksim Shatskikh's team onto seven points and keeps them one ahead of Saudi Arabia's Al Fayha, who won 3-1 against Ahal from Turkmenistan.

That result means Ahal are eliminated while Pakhtakor meet Al Fayha with both sides needing a victory to enhance their hopes of going into next month's draw for the last 16.

(Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Toby Davis)

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