Ronaldo Sparks Al-Nassr's 3-1 Comeback in Asian Champions League
In a gripping Asian Champions League encounter on Monday, Cristiano Ronaldo showcased his scoring prowess, guiding Al-Nassr to a remarkable comeback victory over Tajikistan's Istiklol, with the Saudi Pro League side prevailing 3-1 in Riyadh.
The drama began when Senin Sebai broke free and found the net to give Dushanbe's Istiklol the lead just moments before the first half concluded. Istiklol displayed staunch resilience under relentless pressure until Cristiano Ronaldo displayed his skill, leveling the score with a deft clipped finish in the 66th minute.
Only six minutes later, Anderson Talisca, a Brazilian talent, soared high to head Al-Nassr into the lead. He then put the result beyond doubt with a precisely placed low shot into the corner, leaving Istiklol trailing.
This victory marked Al-Nassr's second consecutive triumph in the group stage of the competition, propelling Luis Castro's side three points clear at the summit of Group E.
In another match, Iran's Persepolis secured the second spot in the group, securing a 1-0 win over Qatar's Al Duhail. Omid Alishah found the net in the 63rd minute, securing their first victory of the campaign.
However, in Group C, a rather unusual situation unfolded when Al-Ittihad's meeting with Iran's Sepahan was canceled. Players from the Saudi club refused to leave their dressing room because a statue of the assassinated Iranian general Qasem Soleimani had been placed at the entrance to the pitch.
Furthermore, in the same group, Air Force Club clinched a 2-1 victory over AGMK. Ali Jasim opened the scoring with a second-minute goal for the Iraqis, and Sanzhar Tursunov's own goal doubled the visitors' lead. Siavash Haghnazari managed to pull one back for AGMK with just nine minutes to go, but Air Force Club held on for the win, accumulating four points, one ahead of Al-Ittihad.
In Group B, Uzbekistan's Nasaf surged to the top position, securing their second consecutive win with Azizbek Amonov netting twice in a 3-1 victory over Al Sadd of Qatar. Ruzikul Berdiev's team now holds a two-point lead over Sharjah from the United Arab Emirates, who secured a victory against Jordan's Al-Faisaly, thanks to a 20th-minute goal from Moussa Marega, an Asian Champions League winner with Saudi Arabia's Al-Hilal in 2021.
The top ten group winners will progress to the last 16, along with the three second-placed teams with the best records in the western and eastern halves of the competition.