Dubai Capitals down Gulf Giants to advance to final of DP World T20

Al-Hilal came from behind to defeat Sepahan 3-1 in the first leg of their second-round clash in the Asian Champions League on Thursday.

The Saudi Arabians had the better of a hard-fought contest but fell behind to the Iranian hosts when Ramin Rezaeian opened the scoring in the first half, before Malcom equalized just before the hour.

The Blues pushed forward and two goals came in stoppage time from Aleksandar Mitrovic and Abdullah Al-Hamdan for their side to take a huge advantage back to Riyadh for the second leg.

After a tight opening, Al-Hilal had a good chance after 28 minutes. Saud Abdulhamid swung over a tempting cross and Salem Al-Dawsari headed wide, taking the chance away from Mitrovic, who was waiting unmarked just behind. 

Soon after, Ruben Neves found Yasser Al-Shahrani just inside the area with a delightful pass and while the full-back twisted and turned to make space, his low shot went straight at the goalkeeper.

Just when it was starting to look like the teams would go in goalless at the break, Sepahan struck after 38 minutes.

A long pass from the edge of the hosts’ penalty area bounced deep inside the Al-Hilal half for the onrushing Rezaeian who chested it down and then thundered his shot across the goalkeeper and into the opposite corner of the net. There was a VAR check for offside, but the goal was given, much to the delight of a large home crowd.

The four-time champions were soon back in it. Ten minutes after the restart, Mitrovic had his first sight of goal and while his low shot was saved, Malcom prodded home the rebound to silence the home crowd.

Both teams continued to make chances but it was Al-Hilal who gained an advantage with just over 10 minutes left when Mohammad Daneshgar was shown a red card for a late tackle.

This led to more pressure from the Saudi Arabians with Sergej Milinkovic-Savic heading wide when unmarked.

In the 94th minute, Mitrovic showed his Serbian compatriot how to do it, climbing high to head home a fine cross from Abdulhamid to break the hearts of the Iranians, who then suffered another goal from Al-Hamdan. They now go to Riyadh next Thursday knowing they need a big win.

Earlier in the day, Al-Ittihad were held to a 0-0 draw in Uzbekistan by Navbahor, while Cristiano Ronaldo gave Al-Nassr a 1-0 win at Al-Fayha on Wednesday.

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