In the Asian Champions League quarterfinal clash, Al-Ain secured a crucial 1-0 victory over Al-Nassr, with Moroccan forward Soufiane Rahimi finding the net in the first half. Despite the return of Cristiano Ronaldo, who had recently served a suspension, Al-Nassr couldn’t avoid the defeat. Ronaldo, fresh after missing a Saudi Pro League match, was unable to prevent Al-Ain from taking the lead. The return leg in Riyadh next Monday will be crucial for both teams.

Ronaldo’s suspension stemmed from an alleged offensive gesture during a previous game against Al-Shabab, where he was seen cupping his ear and making a hand gesture near his pelvis in response to chants about Lionel Messi. In the recent match, Al-Ain’s fans echoed similar gestures, but Al-Nassr found themselves trailing after Rahimi’s goal.

Ronaldo had notable chances, including an overhead kick early on and a lob attempt from the halfway line in the final moments, narrowly missing the post. Al-Nassr’s woes deepened as Aymeric Laporte was sent off in stoppage time for violent conduct, leaving them a man down for the return leg, where they face the challenge of overcoming Al-Ain’s advantage.

“We are only halfway through, and while going to the next round is going to be difficult, we still have 90 minutes at home,” Al-Nassr coach Luis Castro stated.

Despite Al-Ain having two goals disallowed for offside, they secured the win under the guidance of former Argentine striker Hernan Crespo. The victor of this quarterfinal tie is set to face Saudi opposition in the semifinals, adding further anticipation to the next leg of this closely contested encounter. Meanwhile, Al-Ittihad and Al-Hilal are gearing up for their quarterfinal clash in the western zone, as the tournament progresses toward the ultimate goal of reaching the final.


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