Al Ain Triumphs Over Al-Nassr in Epic AFC Champions League Quarterfinal Showdown

Al Ain secured a spot in the semifinals by defeating Al-Nassr in a thrilling encounter that ended in a dramatic penalty shootout. The match, held at Riyadh’s Al Awwal Park, saw both teams fighting tooth and nail, resulting in a 4-4 aggregate draw and a tense 3-1 victory for Al Ain in the shootout.

The first leg had set the stage, with Al Ain carrying a 1-0 lead into the second leg courtesy of Soufiane Rahimi’s decisive goal. The return fixture did not disappoint, featuring seven goals, a red card, and numerous twists and turns.

Rahimi, the tormentor from the first leg, continued to haunt Al-Nassr with two crucial goals in the 28th and 45th minutes. His clinical finishing placed Al Ain in control, seemingly on their way to a comfortable victory. However, Al-Nassr had other plans, as Abdulrahman Ghareeb’s stoppage-time goal injected new life into the contest.

The second half showcased a spirited comeback from the home side, with Otavio’s cross deflecting off Al Ain goalkeeper Khalid Eisa for an own goal. Alex Telles further leveled the aggregate scores with a stunning free kick 18 minutes from time, sending the home crowd into a frenzy.

As the match entered extra time, the drama intensified. Al-Nassr’s Ayman Yahya received a red card for a reckless challenge, reducing his team to 10 men. Al Ain capitalized on the numerical advantage, with Sultan Al Shamsi capitalizing on Al-Nassr goalkeeper Raghid Najjar’s handling error to score a crucial goal.

Just when it seemed Al Ain had secured their place in the semifinals, Cristiano Ronaldo, determined to salvage the match, won and converted a penalty in the 118th minute, sending the game into a penalty shootout.

The shootout proved to be a rollercoaster of emotions. Al Ain goalkeeper Khalid Eisa, who had faced criticism for his earlier performance, redeemed himself by saving Miroslav Brozovic’s opening penalty. Ronaldo successfully converted his spot-kick, but Al-Nassr’s Alex Telles and Otavio faltered in their attempts. Al Ain’s Soufiane Rahimi, Kaku, and Sultan Al Shamsi all converted, sealing Al Ain’s semifinal berth in the AFC Champions League.

As Al-Nassr focus shifts to the Pro League fixture against Al-Ahli Saudi.

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