Al-Hilal finishes off Sepahan to reach Asian Champions League quarterfinals

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Ruben Neves and Aleksandar Mitrovic scored for Al-Hilal on Thursday to book an all-Saudi Arabian quarterfinal matchup in the Asian Champions League against Karim Benzema’s Al-Ittihad.

Four-time champion Al-Hilal beat Sepahan of Iran 3-1 in their round-of-16 second leg in Riyadh to advance 6-2 on aggregate.

Farshad Ahmadzadeh scored for Sepahan nine minutes into the second half, but Siavash Yazadni was sent off with 19 minutes remaining.

Soon after, Al-Hilal’s Salem Al-Dawsari scored to level on the night and restore the two-goal aggregate advantage.

Neves volleyed a spectacular shot into the top corner from outside the area. Mitrovic score deep into stoppage time.

Al-Hilal will take on Al-Ittihad in the next round as the team from Jeddah defeated Navbahor of Uzbekistan 2-1 earlier in the day. After the first leg ended 0-0 in Central Asia, Benzema headed into his own net after 25 minutes. The former Real Madrid striker set up Abderrazak Hamdallah to level on the stroke of halftime.

Al-Ittihad, champions in 2004 and 2005, went ahead for the first time in the tie with three minutes left as Toma Tabatadze sliced a corner into his own net.

“We were the better team in the two matches, and I think we deserved to qualify for the quarterfinals,” Al-Ittihad midfielder N’Golo Kanté said. “We played the return match in the same way as the first leg, but we failed to turn chances into goals.”

Saudi Arabia has a third representative in the last eight as Al-Nassr and Cristiano Ronaldo will take on Al-Ain of the United Arab Emirates. The quarterfinals kick off in the first week of March.


AP soccer:

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