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Al Ahli 1-3 Al Hilal

26 April 2009 No Comment

Source: www.the-afc.com

Al Hilal coach Georges Leekens lauded his players after the Saudi side all but secured their place in the last 16 of the ACL with a 3-1 win over Al Ahli of the UAE at Al Rashid Stadium on Wednesday. The under-strength home side took a surprise lead in the third minute when Mahmood Qassim lobbed the ball home from near the halfway line after a poor clearance by goalkeeper Mohammad Al Deayea but the visitors hit back in the 21st minute through Tareq El Taib.

Mirel Radoi scored from the spot early in the second-half and Yasser Al Qahtani, who was later sent off, wrapped up the win with a fine strike in the 64th minute.

The result sent Group A leaders Pakhtakor through to the knockout stage and virtually sealed Al Hilal’s passage as well as the Riyadh club moved six points ahead of Saba Battery with two games left to play.

“The win today showed our good character as we were not affected by the early goal that we conceded,” said Leekens.

“The most important thing tonight was that we got the three points regardless of the chances that we missed. We knew that Al Ahli were missing some players but I warned my players not to underestimate them.

“Our chances in the competition are really good as we are now in a good position to qualify for the next round. However, our aim is not only to qualify but to fight for the title.”

Al Ahli’s chances of advancement were slim after managing only one point from their first three games and coach Ivan Hasek opted to preserve his players by fielding a weakened squad.

“We were missing some key players due to injuries and I was not ready to gamble and play with other players who have slight injuries.

“To be honest, our main focus now is on our local league. Despite having a bit of a chance in the AFC Champions League, it would have been totally wrong to play with a full squad with players who have slight injuries like Faisal Khalil for example.

“The result could have been different if we played with a strong squad but our attention is now on the local league.”

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