Michael Olunga’s assist not enough as Al Duhail fall to Cristiano Ronaldo-less Al Nassr to stare at early Champions League elimination

© Al Duhail.

STARS ABROAD Michael Olunga’s assist not enough as Al Duhail fall to Cristiano Ronaldo-less Al Nassr to stare at early Champions League elimination

Joel Omotto 06:50 - 08.11.2023

Michael Olunga provided an early assist and missed a couple of chances for Al Duhail as they suffered another 3-2 loss to Ronaldo-less Al Nassr in the Asian Champions League

Michael Olunga’s Al Duhail are starring at an early elimination from the Asian Champions League after suffering their third defeat in a row following another 3-2 loss to Al Nassr on Tuesday.

Even in the absence of the rested Cristiano Ronaldo, Al Duhail could still not match the star-studded Saud Arabian side although they stared well with Olunga assisting Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho to score after just eight minutes.

Coutinho opened the scoring after outpacing Al Nassr's Alex Telles to latch on to a swerving pass from Olunga, who had won the ball in the final third, with a right-footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of goal.

With one-goal down, table-toppers Al Nassr continued to press forward in search of an equaliser and Talisca could have gotten them one in the 16th minute had his header from the centre of the box, off a cross from Alex Telles, not gone high and wide to the left.

Olunga also came close to scoring in the 23rd minute as he tried to head the ball off a cross from the left but his attempt was blocked.

Four minutes later, Talisca got Al Nassr's equaliser. The Brazillian attacking midfielder had gotten the ball from outside the penalty box from Abdulrahman Ghareeb and he decided to shoot from distance and his right-footed hit sensationally found the right-bottom corner past Zakaria to draw level for his team.

Talisca again registered his name on the scoresheet in the 37th minute to put his side in front. The 29-year-old was supplied a well-timed pass in an unmarked position right at the edge of Al Duhail's 18-yard box by Senegal's Sadio Mane, and he wasted no time in blasting home a long-ranger to the bottom right corner of goalkeeper Salah Zakaria's goal.

Al Duhail had a chance to draw level just before halftime when Olunga tried a cross from the left that was meant for Ismael Mohammad on the right, who had made a run behind the defence, but his header failed to find the target.

Al Duhail came out from the dugout for the second half with more grit but much to the dismay of the home crowd, Al Nassr caught Al Duhail’s defence napping with a counter-attack in the 65th minute as Talisca completed his hat-trick.

Al Duhail cut the deficit from the spot in the 80th minute, with Coutinho registering his brace after Al Nassr's Marcelo Brozovic conceded a penalty following a hand ball in the penalty area.

Al Duhail were reduced to 10 men in added time, with captain Khaled Mohammed getting his matching orders for violent conduct on Al Nassr's Otavio.

The defeat leaves Al Duhail clutching at the straws as they are bottom of Group E with one point after four rounds of matches and will have to beat Iranian side Persepolis, second on the group with seven points, and Istiklol from Tajikistan, who have two, by big margins and hope that the two sides lose for them to have any chance of progressing.

Al Nassr top the standings with 12 points after winning all their group games so far.

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