HomeSaudi ArabiaRonaldo's Al Nassr secures AFC Champions League knockout berth despite stalemate

Ronaldo’s Al Nassr secures AFC Champions League knockout berth despite stalemate

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Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: In a tense encounter on Monday, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr clinched their spot in the AFC Champions League knockout stages with a hard-fought 0-0 draw against Iran’s Persepolis.

The Saudi Arabian side, boasting an unbeaten record in Group E, needed just a point in their home clash at Al Awwal Park to advance to the last 16.

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The celebration for Al Nassr, however, was tempered by the fact that they played the majority of the match with 10 men.

The turning point came early in the game when Ali Lajami received a straight red card on 17 minutes for a studs-up challenge on Milad Sarlak.

The contest ignited within the first four minutes as Nassr had a penalty claim denied after Ronaldo appeared to be tripped in the visitors’ area.

However, the Portuguese forward, displaying sportsmanship, admitted to the referee that it was not a foul. The decision stood after a VAR consultation, keeping the scoreline level.

As if the red card wasn’t enough adversity, Ronaldo’s collision with Persepolis goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand forced the star player to be substituted with 13 minutes remaining.

The clash resulted in a 0-0 stalemate, but Nassr’s resilience secured their place in the knockout stages.

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Despite the draw, Nassr’s captain, aged 38, seemed to suffer a neck injury in the second half after a collision with Beiranvand, adding to the challenges faced by the Saudi side.

Ronaldo was eventually withdrawn on 77 minutes, appearing to experience discomfort.

Looking ahead, Nassr is set to face arch-rivals Al Hilal in a top-of-the-table clash in the Saudi Pro League on Friday.

In another fixture, Al Duhail secured their first win of the campaign with a 2-0 victory at home against Tajikistan’s Istiklol in the same group.

Meanwhile, in Group C, Saudi Arabian champions Al Ittihad rebounded from a defeat in the previous round with a 2-1 win against Uzbekistan’s AGMK FC.

Moroccan Abderrazzaq Hamdallah’s brace in the first half paved the way for victory, maintaining Ittihad’s position at the top of the standings.

The group stage continues to provide thrilling action, with Group B witnessing a shift as Uzbekistan’s Nasaf Qarshi claimed the top spot with a 3-1 win at home against Jordan’s Al Faisaly.

In the same group, Qatari side Al Sadd secured a 2-0 victory over Sharjah in the UAE.

With Nasaf leading the group on 10 points, the final matches next week will determine the teams advancing to the knockout rounds.

The group stage, featuring a home-and-away format for the first time since early 2020, runs until mid-December.

The top 10 pool winners and the six best second-placed teams will advance to the knockout rounds starting in February, with the final set to take place across two legs in May.

The road to AFC Champions League glory promises more excitement as teams vie for supremacy in this prestigious tournament.

 

This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members

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