Al Hilal overcome Xavi’s Al Sadd to reach AFC final

Hilal’s midfielder Andre Carrillo fights for the ball with Sadd’s midfielder Gabi during the second leg of the AFC Champions League semifinals football match between Qatar’s Al Sadd and Saudi’s Al Hilal in Riyadh. (AFP)
Updated 22 October 2019

Al Hilal overcome Xavi’s Al Sadd to reach AFC final

  • Athough Xavi’s Al Sadd scored three goals inside four minutes during a frenetic phase of the game in the first half, they fell short to lose 6-5
  • Razvan Lucescu’s men advanced to their third continental final inside six years, having finished runners up in 2014 and 2017

DOHA: Saudi giants Al Hilal survived a huge scare from Qatar’s Al Sadd before advancing to the AFC Champions League final on aggregate on Tuesday, despite crashing to a shock 4-2 defeat in their second-leg encounter.
Having won their semifinal first leg in Doha 4-1 earlier this month, Al Hilal were seemingly comfortable in the knowledge Al Sadd would be required to come up with a special effort to overturn the massive deficit in front of their home fans in Riyadh.
But although Xavi’s Al Sadd scored three goals inside four minutes during a frenetic phase of the game in the first half, they fell short to lose 6-5, much to the relief of the packed crowd at the King Saud University Stadium.
The match even ended on a dramatic note with Al Sadd earning a free kick just outside the penalty area with a few seconds to go in stoppage time.
But Nam Tae-hee’s cracking effort was stopped by Al Hilal goalkeeper Abdulla Al-Maiouf as Razvan Lucescu’s men advanced to their third continental final inside six years, having finished runners up in 2014 and 2017.
It was Al Hilal, however, who struck first in a fast-paced first half with Salem Al-Dawsari scoring from close in the 13th minute to give his side a 5-1 advantage.
The tables were to be turned shortly afterwards though as Akram Afif equalized from the penalty spot in the 17th minute after he was brought down.
Two minutes later Nam produced a fine burst of speed from the center of the field and advanced into the penalty area before passing the ball to Afif.
The star Qatar forward relayed the ball back to Hassan Al-Haydos, who in turn set up Nam with a deft flick and the Korean blasted home from close.
Al Sadd were 3-1 up in the very next minute with Al-Haydos the scorer this time after Yasser Al-Shahrani in the Al Hilal defense failed to tackle a long ball leaving the goalkeeper exposed with pressure from Nam and his compatriot Jang Hyun-soo
The stunned crowd however heaved a collective sigh of relief in the 25th minute when the prolific Batefimbi Gomis latched on to a diagonal pass from Sebastian Giovinco and netted with a half-volley as Al Hilal stretched their aggregate to 6-4.
The second half lacked the urgency of the first period, but Boualem Khoukhi had the Saudis rattled by heading in an Abdulaziz Ansari pass with the match three minutes into stoppage time.
And when Nam’s late free-kick was saved by Al Hilal goalkeeper Al-Maiouf, Al Hilal’s spot in the final was confirmed.
They face the winners of the semifinal between Guangzhou Evergrande and Urawa Red Diamonds, with the first leg of the final taking place in Riyadh on November 9.


Fury and Wilder weigh in big for their big heavyweight fight

Updated 22 February 2020

Fury and Wilder weigh in big for their big heavyweight fight

  • The two unbeaten heavyweights meet in a showdown just 14 months after they fought to a draw in a dramatic fight in Los Angeles

LAS VEGAS: Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder made one last appearance Friday before their big heavyweight title fight, weighing in and taunting each other before a raucous crowd at the MGM Grand arena.
Wilder weighed 231 pounds, the heaviest of his career, for his 11th title defense. Fury, meanwhile, tipped the scales at 273 pounds, just 3 pounds short of his heaviest ever, too, for Saturday night’s rematch.
The fighters jawed at each other from a distance after getting on the scales in the arena. Nevada boxing officials ruled they would not have a faceoff after pushing each other at the final press conference on Wednesday.
Thousands of fans, most of them supporting Fury, jammed the arena, waiting for several hours for the fighters to make their brief appearance on the scales. Though separated, the two fighters jawed at each other, much like they did at the press conference promoting the pay-per-view bout.
``I just told him, `24 hours, 24 hours,’’’ Wilder said. ``He’s nervous, nervous energy as always.’’
The two unbeaten heavyweights meet in a showdown just 14 months after they fought to a draw in a dramatic fight in Los Angeles. The fight is arguably the biggest heavyweight bout since Lennox Lewis demolished Mike Tyson in 2002, and both fighters could make some $40 million if the pay-per-view sells well.

Wilder weighed in at 231 pounds. (AFP)

Fury weighed in 16.5 pounds heavier than the first fight, and just 3 pounds short of what he weighed in his first comeback fight in 2018 after being out of the ring with drug and alcohol problems. Wilder was also heavier than expected, weighing 18.5 pounds more than the first fight.
``The weight’s not a problem,’’ the 6-foot-9 Fury said. ``It’s 273 pounds of pure British beef.’’
A fight that promises intriguing matchups matches two fighters with claims to titles — Fury’s is the mythical lineal crown — in a rematch of their draw a little more than a year ago. In that fight, Fury dominated the boxing but Wilder knocked him down in the ninth and 12th rounds before the judges scored it a draw.
Fury (29-0-1, 20 knockouts) predicted in the weeks leading up to the fight he would weigh about 270 pounds. He said he added the weight because he intends to go after Wilder from the opening bell in the rematch to try and score an early knockout.
``At the end of the day, we’re heavyweights,’’ Wilder said. ``So it doesn’t really matter about the weight.’’
In addition to the weight, Fury will have to deal with the possibility of the cut suffered around his right eye in his last fight will reopen. He usually trains without headgear but used it for the rematch because of the 47 stitches it took to sew the cut up after his hard-fought win in September against Sweden’s Otto Wallin.
Wilder (42-0-1, 41 knockouts) is making the 11th defense of the crown he won in 2015, the same year Fury beat Wladimir Klitschko to win a piece of the title. Fury didn’t fight for more than two years after that, giving up his crown as he descended into mental and drug problems and his weight ballooned to 375 pounds.