Al Ittihad, led by Karim Benzema, faced a setback in their Asian Champions League campaign as they suffered a 2-0 defeat against Air Force Club in Iraq, in sports news football. The loss mounted pressure on manager Nuno Espirito Santo, with the Saudi Arabian champions struggling to find their form in both the continental tournament and the Saudi Pro League.
Defeat in Iraq
Entering the match in Erbil with a perfect record in Group C, Al Ittihad faltered against the dominant Air Force Club. Ali Jasim and Mohannad Abdulraheem found the net for the hosts, narrowing the gap to the group leaders to just two points after four matches. The first goal came one minute before half-time, as Jasim capitalized on Abdulraheem’s cut-back, while Abdulraheem’s close-range volley early in the second half further dampened Al Ittihad’s hopes.
Despite their strong showing in the Asian Champions League, Al Ittihad’s lackluster performance in the Saudi Pro League has raised concerns. Without a win in five matches, the team has slipped to sixth place after 12 rounds, leading to speculation about Nuno’s potential departure from the club.
Meanwhile, in Group D, Al Hilal secured a 2-0 victory over Mumbai City in India, maintaining their unbeaten record and advancing to the knockout stages. Winger Michael and Aleksandar Mitrovic were on target for the visitors, securing a comfortable win at the DY Patil Stadium.
Sharjah Held to a Draw
In Group B, UAE club Sharjah faced a setback as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Uzbekistan’s Nasaf. Despite an early strike from Moussa Marega, Sharjah’s lead was canceled out by a Mateus goal in the closing minutes of the match. Jambul Jigauri’s missed penalty and late red cards for both teams added drama to the match in Qarshi.
As the group stage continues until mid-December, the tournament’s format this year has returned to a home-and-away structure. The top 10 pool winners and the six best second-placed teams will advance to the knockout rounds, set to commence in February. The final, scheduled across two legs, will take place in May, promising an exciting climax to the Asian Champions League.
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