Al-Nassr’s AFC Champions League Dreams Dashed: A Rollercoaster Quarter-Final Saga

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In a thrilling AFC Champions League quarter-final clash, Al-Nassr faced a daunting challenge against Al-Ain. Despite the home advantage, Al-Nassr found themselves trailing on aggregate early on, with Soufiane Rahimi’s first-half brace extending Al-Ain’s lead. However, a glimmer of hope emerged just before halftime as Abdulrahman Ghareeb’s goal injected newfound energy into the Al-Nassr camp.

The second half saw Al-Nassr mount a spirited comeback, with Otavio’s fortuitous goal leveling the aggregate score. Despite several opportunities, including a glaring miss from Cristiano Ronaldo, Al-Nassr fought tooth and nail to force extra time, eventually equalizing through Alex Telles’ unconventional strike from a free-kick.

The momentum swung wildly in extra time as Al-Nassr were reduced to ten men following Ayman Ahmed’s dismissal. Al-Ain seized the opportunity, regaining the lead through Al Shamsi’s goal, compounded by a costly error from Al-Nassr goalkeeper Raghed Najjar. However, Cristiano Ronaldo’s late heroics, converting a penalty in the dying minutes, forced the tie into a nerve-wracking penalty shootout.

Despite Ronaldo’s efforts, Al-Nassr’s journey in the AFC Champions League came to an agonizing end as Otavio faltered from the spot, allowing Al-Ain to progress to the next round. Monday’s defeat marks a bitter exit for Al-Nassr, ending their campaign at the quarter-final stage for the first time since 2018-19.