Al-Hilal thrash Al-Duhail 7-0 to reach AFC Champions League final
Defending Champions Al-Hilal of Saudi Arabia thrashed Qatar’s Al-Duhail 7-0 to reach the AFC Champions League final in the match held at Al-Thumama Stadium in Qatar on Sunday.
In its bid to win the title for a record fifth time, Al-Hilal will take on Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds in the two-legged final to be held on April 29 and May 6. Nigeria star Odion Ighalo scored four goals while two goals came from Mali striker Moussa Merega and one from Salem Al-Dawsari.
Former Manchester United and Watford striker Ighalo scored his first goal within 90 seconds after kick-off. The 33-year-old Nigerian headed into an empty goal to open the rout and had an equally easy tap-in for his second goal after 10 minutes. The Duhail defense was torn apart from the very beginning of the match.
Marega scored his first goal 3-0 in the 14th minute, then scored a second goal in the 27th minute, prompting the distraught Al-Duhail fans to quit the stadium. Salem Al-Dawsari added to the pain of the Qatari team in the 38th minute.
Marega cleverly back-heeled for Salem Al-Dawsari to make the score 5-0 at the break. Marega had a 41st-minute volley ruled out for offside by the video assistant referee. Ighalo kissed the ground in thanks as the half-time whistle blew.
The start of the second half was similar to what happened in the beginning, as Ighalo completed his hat-trick after a pass from Al-Dawsari in the 48th minute. Ighalo shot his fourth goal in the 62nd minute before being substituted by Ramon Diaz.
Ighalo ensured Al-Hilal achieved the biggest victory in the history of the semi-finals in the AFC Champions League when he exchanged passes with Abdullah Al-Hamdan to shoot into the far corner in the 62nd minute.
Al-Duhail coach, former Argentina star Hernan Crespo, was quickly made to regret his pre-match comments that he had a “strong belief” that his side could go through.
The biggest win in the tournament overall was when Al-Hilal defeated Bani Yas of the United Arab Emirates 7-1 in 2012.
Al-Hilal will face Urawa Red Diamonds in the final, as it will host the first leg in Saudi Arabia on April 29, with the second leg on May 6. Al-Hilal defeated Urawa when they last met in the final in 2019.
Al-Hilal entered the final of the FIFA Club World Cup for the first time in its history. The Saudi club qualified for the final after a stunning 3-2 win over Brazil’s Flamengo football club. But it lost to the defending champions Real Madrid, who won their fifth title following a 5–3 win against Al-Hilal in the final held in Morocco earlier this month.