Abderrazak Hamdallah’s sixth goal of the 2020 AFC Champions League was
enough to send Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr into the quarter-finals with a
valuable 1-0 victory over compatriots Al Taawoun FC in the Round of 16
Al Nassr were looking to make it back-to-back quarter-final appearances, while for Al Taawoun this was their first-ever AFC Champions League knock-out stage appearance.
The first real chance of the game fell Al Nassr’s way at the quarter-hour mark when Awad al-Faraj embarked on a jinking run down the left and fed Pity Martinez who controlled and tried to find the bottom corner but put too much bend into it, sending it wide.
Head coach Rui Vitoria’s men dominated the proceedings for the entirety of the first half, restricting Al Taawoun to a few half chances, but by the time the halftime whistle arrived, there had been no shots between the sticks on either goal at Education City Stadium.
Al Nassr continued to retain the bulk of possession and Martinez came close to breaking his AFC Champions League duck, curling a 57th minute free-kick past the Al Taawoun wall, but his shot hit the side netting.
Khalid al-Ghannam applied pressure on defender Ahmed Asiri, winning the ball deep inside the Al Taawoun half then moving into the penalty box. Al-Ghannam looked to square for Hamdallah who had the goal at his mercy, but Yaseen Barnawi made a vital interception before the ball could reach the Moroccan striker.
Attempting to escape the tight marking imposed on him, Al Taawoun’s Australian forward Mitchell Duke came deeper and sent an angled cross from the right for the onrushing Hassan Kadesh who struck it on the half-volley wide off target.
Al Taawoun’s defensive resilience was finally broken in the 76th minute and it was naturally Al Nassr’s talisman Hamdallah who opened the scoring on the night.
Sultan al-Ghannam won the ball back from Cedric Amissi and whipped a cross towards the far post which was missed by Asiri allowing Hamdallah to control and fire home through the legs of goalkeeper Cassio.
Al Nassr join compatriots Al Ahli Saudi FC, Pakhtakor FC of Uzbekistan and Iran’s Persepolis FC in the quarter-finals with the draw for the West Asia matches taking place today.
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