A late goal gave Al Hilal a 1-1 draw in the first leg of Asian Champions League semi-final to deny visiting Al Ahli a shock win at the King Fahd International Stadium on Tuesday.
The visitor took a lead in the 57th minute through Rodrigo Lima, following the Ismail Al Hammadi’s failure to prevent a free-kick from Everton Ribeiro, which then the loose ball was nodded by the former Benfica striker.
But the Saudi host, last year’s beaten finalist, was not to be denied after Ailton netting a bullet header from a corner delivered by Carlos Eduardo to salvage a draw in the final eight minuts of the game.
“We had a bad performance in the first half and this was the first match in months that we struggled to build our attacks,” said Al Hilal coach Georgios Donis, who lamented the draw result.
“We struggled in the first half and we made several wrong decisions. Things improved in the second period as our performance was better despite conceding a goal.”
On the other side, Cosmin Olaroiu insisted that Al Ahli still have a tough challenge ahead in the second leg despite having a crucial away goal.
“We will not go into the second leg thinking of a draw because we could lose especially because we are playing against a strong team like Al Hilal,” he said.
“The fans of Al Hilal put on a great atmosphere and we are glad that we got away with a draw from the match tonight.”
The return leg will be played at Rashed Stadium in Dubai, UAE on October 20.