Al Ain’s Dramatic Victory in AFC Champions League Round of 16

Al Ain secured a thrilling 2-1 victory over FC Nasaf in the second leg of the AFC Champions League 2023/24 Round of 16 at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on Wednesday. The win was sealed by a late goal from Soufiane Rahimi, propelling Al Ain into the quarter-finals where they will face Al Nassr, the Saudi Pro League side that beat Al Fayha 3-0 on aggregate.

In a tightly contested match, Al Ain’s Bandar Al Ahbabi set up Kodjo Laba with a dangerous cross within 10 minutes, but Laba couldn’t direct his header on target. Nasaf’s Temur Chogadze had a chance from range, but his strike was comfortably saved by Al Ain’s goalkeeper, Khalid Eisa.

Despite Nasaf’s growing pressure and a series of corners, Al Ain’s defense held firm. However, Nasaf took the lead through Akmal Mozgovoy’s close-range tap-in from a corner. Al Ain responded swiftly, with Laba’s acrobatic effort leveling the score.

As the game approached extra time, Rahimi’s late goal completed the comeback, securing Al Ain’s place in the quarter-finals. Manager Hernan Crespo praised the team’s performance, expressing joy at returning to the quarter-finals after seven years and commending the players’ professionalism and hard work.

Crespo emphasized the team’s resilience, having found themselves trailing before rallying to secure the victory. He also highlighted the strategic rotation of players, expressing pride in their abilities and dedication.

Al Ain, the 2003 AFC Champions League winners, will host the first leg against Al Nassr on March 4, setting the stage for an exciting quarter-final clash.

This dramatic victory not only marks a significant milestone for Al Ain but also underscores the team’s determination and skill in the AFC Champions League 2023/24.

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