Al-Hilal's record 34-match winning run ends at Al-Ain

AFP , Wednesday 17 Apr 2024

Saudi Arabia's Al-Hilal saw their record run of 34 successive victories end on Wednesday at the hands of UAE's Al-Ain in the Asian Champions League.

Al-Hilal star Saleh Al-Shehri fights Al-Ain midfielder Mohamed Al Baloushi during the AFC Champions League semi-final first leg on Wednesday 17 April 2024. Photo: Courtesy of Al-Hilal's official X account


Morocco striker Soufiane Rahimi was the star of the show after he scored a first-half hat-trick in a 4-2 win for Al-Ain in their semi-final first leg.

Al-Hilal, the four-time Asian champions, last failed to win a game in September last year when they drew a Saudi Pro League match.

Wednesday's game had been postponed 24 hours after torrential rain swamped the UAE and the record-setting Saudis must have wished it had kept raining.

Rahimi opened the scoring after just six minutes from a pass by Yahia Nader and added a second from the penalty spot 20 minutes later after he was brought down by goalkeeper Mohammed Al Owais who was yellow carded for his troubles.

Rahimi completed his hat-trick in the 40th minute, again from a penalty after Ali Al Bulayhi chopped down Brazilian defender Erik in the area.

Al-Hilal reduced the deficit early in the second period when Malcom scored from a pass by Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.

However, the Saudis conceded yet another penalty just before the hour mark with Kalidou Koulibaly bringing down Rahimi.

This time Paraguayan star Alejandro Romero took over spot-kick duties to make it 4-1 for Al Ain, the inaugural winners of the Asian Champions League in 2003.

Salem Al Dawsari kept Al-Hilal in the tie ahead of next Tuesday's return leg by scoring his team's second goal of the night in the 78th minute.

Earlier Wednesday, South Korea's Ulsan claimed a slender lead in their semi-final with a 1-0 first-leg win over Japan's Yokohama F-Marinos.

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