Al Ain claim Asian Champions League lead over Al Nassr

Al Ain claim Asian Champions League lead over Al Nassr

Al Ain secured a 1-0 lead in the first leg of their Asian Champions League quarterfinal against Al Nassr, setting the stage for a thrilling second leg encounter next week against Cristiano Ronaldo's side. 

Soufiane Rahimi's well-timed strike in the 44th minute proved decisive for Hernan Crespo's team, giving them a narrow advantage at home. However, former Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte will be unavailable for the return leg after being sent off in added time for violent conduct, following a clash with Bandar Al-Ahbabi.

The match, played at a packed Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, saw Al Ain's Paraguayan midfielder Kaku denied a goal by VAR due to a marginal offside call earlier in the game. Nonetheless, Rahimi capitalized on a superb defense-splitting pass from Kaku to score just before halftime, rounding off a flowing move and beating goalkeeper David Ospina.

Despite a spirited effort from Al Nassr in the second half, with notable chances for Ronaldo, including a strong save from Al Ain goalkeeper Khalid Eisa, they couldn't find the equalizer. Al Nassr's hopes were further dampened by Laporte's late dismissal, leaving them with a tough task in the second leg in Riyadh.

The winner of the tie will progress to face either Al Hilal or Al Ittihad in the semifinals. Meanwhile, on the eastern side of the draw, Ulsan Hyundai and Jeonbuk Motors from South Korea are set to clash, while Japan's Yokohama F Marinos will take on China's Shandong Taishan.

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