Masharipov leads Al Nassr into Asian Champions League semi

Riyadh (AFP) – Uzbek winger Jaloliddin Masharipov struck a second-half brace as Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr thrashed the UAE’s Al Wahda 5-1 to storm into the semi-finals of the Asian Champions League on Saturday.

Al Nassr will now meet compatriots Al Hilal on Tuesday in a Riyadh derby after the three-time champions saw off Iranian giants Persepolis 3-0 in the second quarter-final from AFC’s western zone.

The AFC were forced to play the quarter-finals in a single-leg format after the Covid-19 pandemic played havoc with the scheduling.

Masharipov, who joined Al Nassr from Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor this year, had vowed to do his best in the match.

“I promise our fans that I will give my best and so will all of my teammates to meet the fans’ expectations and ambitions,” he told the AFC website on Friday.

And sure enough the 28-year-old delivered in style, first by providing the assist for Abderazzak Hamdallah to score Al Nassr’s opening goal in the seventh minute and then booting home the second seven minutes after the break as he cut in from the left flank and beat Al Wahda goalkeeper Mohamed al-Shamsi with ease.

Abdulfattah Asiri added the third goal in the 56th minute before Masharipov made it 4-0 in the 65th on a pass from Hamdallah with a composed finish.

Al Wahda, who were on a six-match unbeaten run in the tournament, just couldn’t cope against the better organised Saudis and conceded their fifth goal with Sami al-Naji firing home in the 75th minute.

The Emiratis managed to pull one back in stoppage time but Ismaeil Matar’s strike was too little too late as they crashed out of the tournament at this stage for the third time.

Also in Riyadh, Al Hilal made light work of Persepolis with star striker Bafetimbi Gomis on target twice in the second half.

Salam al-Dawsari put the 2019 winners ahead in the 27th minute, making good on a long pass by Mohamed Kano and blasting the ball past goalkeeper Hamed Lak whose full-length dive went in vain.

Frenchman Gomis made it 2-0 five minutes after the break with an easy tap-in from a Matheus Pereira pass as Al Hilal completely dominated their rivals.

Former Swansea striker Gomis got his second goal in the 70th minute following a spell of crisp passing involving Pereira and al-Dawsari to put Al Hilal within two wins of a possible fourth Asian title.

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