Egypt's Ahly finish third again with 4-0 drubbing of 9-man Al Hilal

Hatem Maher , Saturday 12 Feb 2022

Egypt's Ahly won the FIFA Club World Cup bronze medal for a second straight year in ruthless fashion, crushing nine-man Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia 4-0 with a mesmerizing display of attacking football in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

Ahly v Al Hilal
Ahly s midfielder Amr El-Sulaya (C) celebrates with his team after scoring the fourth goal during the FIFA Club World Cup third place football match between Egypt s Ahly and Saudi s Al-Hilal at al-Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi, on February 12, 2022 (AFP)

Central defender Yasser Ibrahim headed home early on as Ahly's pressure immediately paid off, with Al Hilal's hopes to even things up dealt a huge blow shortly after as Matheus Pereira was shown a straight red card.

The talented Brazilian attacking midfielder headed for an early bath after his high-foot tackle caught midfielder Amr El-Sulaya on the shin.

It did not take Ahly long to capitalize on their numerical advantage as Ibrahim headed home again on 17 minutes before Mohammed Kanoo kicked him in an off-the-ball incident ten minutes later to receive a straight red card.

Al Hilal then shifted into damage control mode as Ahly launched a wave after wave of attacks, which resulted in a third goal from impressive winger Ahmed Abdel-Kader five minutes before halftime.

El-Sulaya completed the rout four minutes past the hour mark and Ahly wasted other chances, with Al Hilal barely making any forays at the other end.

Ahly, who lost 2-0 to South American champions Palmeiras in the semis, finished third in the annual tournament for the third time, having also won bronze in 2006 and 2021.

The win over Al Hilal marked the Red Devils' biggest ever victory in the Club World Cup on their record seventh appearance.

Early pressing

While Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane was criticized for sitting back against Palmeiras, he will surely get credit for a wholly different approach against Al Hilal, with the team applying high pressing from the outset.

Although Al Hilal gave European champions Chelsea a run for their money in their 1-0 semi-final defeat, they struggled to find their feet against a vibrant Ahly side.

Ibrahim needed eight minutes to open the scoring, escaping his marker to head home from close range following an inviting cross from Tunisian left-back Ali Maaloul, with keeper Mohammed Al-Owais too slow to react.

Pereira's red card aw Al Hilal lose their primary source of creativity and they were punished when Ibrahim headed home again, this time on a rebound, after a fierce shot from right-back Mohamed Hani was blocked by Al-Owais and the defence failed to clear.

Maaloul almost made it 3-0 on 26 minutes when he broke clear following a flowing three-man move, only to fire a low shot just wide.

Abdel-Kader made amends in the 40th minute, skipping past his challenger in the area before his shot rebounded off Muteb Al Mufarrij and found him again to drill home past the wrong-footed keeper.  

Ahly somewhat eased off in the second half but there was still room for a fourth goal.

El-Sulaya's swerving shot beat Al-Owais at his near post and Abdel-Kader had a goal disallowed for offside a few minutes later as Ahly completed a comprehensive victory.

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