Gomis shines as Al Hilal drub Xavi’s Al Sadd 4-1

Hilal players celebrate winning the first leg of the AFC Champions League semi-finals football match against Qatar's Al Sadd. (AFP)
Updated 01 October 2019

Gomis shines as Al Hilal drub Xavi’s Al Sadd 4-1

  • Gomis went from villain to hero by equalising for Al Hilal after having helped Al Sadd go ahead in the 14th minute with an own goal
  • Saudi team take a giant step toward the AFC Champions League final

DOHA: Bafetimbi Gomis starred as Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal took a giant step toward the AFC Champions League final with a 4-1 drubbing of Qatari giants Al Sadd, coached by Xavi, in the first leg of their semifinal clash in Doha on Tuesday.
Gomis went from villain to hero by equalising for Al Hilal after having helped Al Sadd go ahead in the 14th minute with an own goal, while Ali Al-Bulayhi and Mohamed Al-Shalhoub also netted for the visitors at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium
Al Sadd’s Salem Al-Hajjiri also scored an own goal to help boost the visitors’ score before the second leg clash in Riyadh on October 22.
Al Sadd and Al Hilal have a storied history in the West Asian region, both teams having won the Champions League on two occasions.
But Al Hilal had won only once before in their nine away encounters against Al Sadd, a fact that must have boosted Xavi and his men’s confidence ahead of the match.
On Tuesday, however, the home side failed to make their chances count, and to make matters worse for them Abdelkarim Hassan was sent off in the 35th minute — for a foul and then for arguing with the referee.
Needless to say the exit of the defender — who was named Asian Player of the Year in 2018 — was a big blow for Xavi’s side as they struggled to contain the Al Hilal forward, of whom Gomis was a constant threat.
Al Sadd were more enterprising in the early stages with Akram Afif and Hassan Al-Haydos excelling up front and creating quite a few chances.
Afif elicited a fine save from goalkeeper Abdulla Al-Mayouf and later found his shot from close hit the upright much to the disappointment of the near-capacity crowd.
But luck shone on the hosts in the 14th minute when Al-Haydos cut in from the right off a corner and shot across the goalmouth, only for Gomis to attempt a clearance with the ball ending up in the Al Hilal net.
Gomis, however, made amends in the 33rd minute with a simple finish after a cross from Sebastian Giovinco following a defensive lapse involving Tarek Salman and Boualem Khoukhi.
Just before the first half ended, Al Sadd conceded another goal with Al-Bulyahi heading home from close range after the ball was nodded on to him off a corner by Giovinco.
Gomis was also involved in Al Hilal’s third goal when under pressure from him Al-Hajjri was forced to make contact with the ball inside the six yard box and sent it into his own net as Al Hilal went 3-1 up in the 60th minute.
Al Hilal completed the rout in the 67th minute when Al-Shalhoub received Mohamed Kanno’s pass and drilled it into the bottom of the net.


Star-studded draw held for first-ever Diriyah Tennis Cup

Updated 25 min 30 sec ago

Star-studded draw held for first-ever Diriyah Tennis Cup

  • 8 world-class players from 7 countries set to make tennis history on Thursday
  • Players vie for $3m prize pot, with winner receiving $1m

RIYADH: The draw for Thursday’s opening day of the Diriyah Tennis Cup, presented by Saudi Aramco, has served up a mouth-watering set of quarterfinals for the Kingdom’s first-ever international tennis event.

World No. 12 Fabio Fognini (Italy) and big-serving John Isner (US) officially open the tournament in an exciting opening quarterfinal clash starting at 4 p.m. at the Diriyah Arena.

This will be followed by three-time Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka (Switzerland) taking on flamboyant world No. 10 Gael Monfils (France).

The third quarterfinal will see top seed and world No. 5 Danil Medvedev (Russia) face off against German No. 2 Jan-Lennard Struff.

The opening day’s last quarterfinal will pit 2019 Australian Open semifinalist Lucas Pouille (France) against world No. 11 David Goffin (Belgium).

FASTFACTS

The Diriyah Tennis Cup draw in full:

Quarterfinal 1 (4 p.m.)

Fognini vs. Isner

Quarterfinal 2 (Follows match 1 )

Wawrinka vs. Monfils

Quarterfinal 3 (Not before 8 p.m.)

Medvedev vs. Struff

Quarterfinal 4 (Follows match 3)

Pouille vs. Goffin

The draw, conducted by the players alongside Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the Saudi General Sports Authority, took place on Wednesday at the stunning Diriyah Arena.

Prince Abdul Aziz hit the ceremonial first serve to officially open the 15,000-seater tennis venue.

The Diriyah Arena took just two months to build, with a footprint of 10,000 sq. meters. It has been transformed in just three days following last weekend’s historic “Clash on the Dunes” heavyweight boxing title fight between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr.

Prince Abdul Aziz said: “I am personally so excited to welcome an amazing line-up of some of the very best tennis players on the planet to Saudi Arabia.”

He added: “Tennis joins a spectacular season of world-class sport, entertainment, music and culture at Diriyah. Last weekend was a momentous occasion as we hosted a world heavyweight title fight in this extraordinary and unique arena. And we’re now set to make more history over the coming days.”

He said: “Hosting top-tier international tennis in Saudi Arabia for the very first time is another momentous sporting occasion for Saudi Arabia.”

He added: “The Diriyah Tennis Cup can inspire new players and new fans in Saudi — male, female, old or young. Our goal is to have our people engaged in tennis, inspired by tennis, taking part in tennis and connected as a nation by the sport.”

As well as the eight multi-ATP Tour title-winning superstar names competing, the Diriyah Tennis Cup will also witness rising stars challenge each other in a one-off Saudi special exhibition match.

Riyadh-born Michael Mmoh and Saudi national star Ammar Al-Haqbani, both 21, will compete in front of a home crowd ahead of the final match on Saturday, as a precursor to the tournament’s finale.

All ticket holders for the Diriyah Tennis Cup will be able to attend concerts featuring global superstars Calvin Harris and Major Lazer on Dec. 13, and world-renowned DJs Swedish House Mafia the day after.

Follow Diriyah Season’s news and announcements on the official social media pages on Twitter and Instagram @diriyahseason.

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