Ronaldo's Al-Nassr out of Asian Champions League after Al-Ain defeat

13 Mar 2024

Cristiano Ronaldo's Al-Nassr suffered a heartbreaking exit from the Asian Champions League quarterfinals on Monday after falling 3-1 on penalties to Al-Ain.

Despite Al-Nassr's valiant effort to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg and secure a 4-3 victory, the aggregate scoreline stood at 4-4, leading to a tense shootout. Unfortunately for Al-Nassr, their foreign talents Miroslav Brozovic, Alex Telles and Otavio faltered from the spot, allowing Al-Ain to clinch victory.

Al-Ain goalkeeper Khalid Eisa emerged as the hero, redeeming himself with a crucial save from Brozovic's initial penalty. With Soufiane Rahimi, Kaku and Sultan Al Shamsi successfully converting their kicks, Otavio's miss sealed Al-Nassr's fate.

Al-Ain now advances to the semifinals, where they await the winner between Saudi clubs Al-Hilal and Al-Ittihad. This sets the stage for another thrilling encounter next month.

The shootout dramatically ended a thrilling clash at Al-Awwal Park that featured seven goals and a red card, with Al-Ain building on their first-leg lead during the opening 45 minutes.

Rahimi, the scorer of Al-Ain's first-leg winner, put the visitors in control with goals in the 28th and 45th minutes. However, Abdulrahman Ghareeb's strike five minutes into injury time kept Al-Nassr's hopes alive.

Otavio's low drive was redirected into his own goal by Khaled Eisa six minutes after the restart and Alex Telles leveled the aggregate scores 18 minutes from time with a low free kick that flew through a crowd of players to beat Eisa.

Al-Nassr's Ayman Yahya was sent off eight minutes into extra time for a vicious two-footed lunge on Bandar Al-Ahbabi. A minute later, Al-Shamsi thought he had scored the winner when he capitalized on Raghid Najjar's handling error to poke home.

However, Ronaldo scored from the penalty spot with two minutes remaining after the Portuguese striker was taken down in the area by Saeed Jumaa, taking the game to a shootout.

Ronaldo was the only one of Al-Nassr's four penalty takers to successfully convert as Al-Ain advanced to the last four for the first time since 2016.

In the eastern half of the draw, South Korean sides Jeonbuk Motors and Ulsan Hyundai will meet on Tuesday after sharing a 1-1 draw last week.

On Wednesday, Harry Kewell's Yokohama F Marinos side will hope to defend a 2-1 lead on home soil when they face the Chinese Super League side Shandong Taishan.

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