’Like a dream’: Bayern slump to shock defeat at Bochum

’Like a dream’: Bayern slump to shock defeat at Bochum
’Like a dream’: Bayern slump to shock defeat at Bochum

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - Al-Hilal self-destruct to lose 4-0 to Al-Ahly in Club World Cup third-place play-off

Al-Ahly defeated nine-man Al-Hilal 4-0 on Saturday to take third place at the FIFA Club World Cup, as the Saudi Arabian champions self-destructed in the “Arab Classico” in Abu Dhabi.

While victory gave the Egyptian giants a second successive bronze medal at the tournament, the main talking point was the performance of Al-Hilal.

If the Asian champions started slowly in their 1-0 defeat to Chelsea in the semi-final, that was nothing to events at the Al-Nahyan Stadium where, unlike the game three days earlier, there was no second-half rally that meant the players could leave the pitch with their reputations enhanced.

This game was lost inside a nightmare first 30 minutes, when central defender Yasser Ibrahim scored twice and Al-Hilal had Matheus Pereira and Mohamed Kanno sent off. In fact, the entire first half must have been one of the most painful in the illustrious history of the 17-time Saudi champions.

The signs were there right from the kick-off.

Goalkeeper Mohamed Al-Owais, in the team for his debut as one of a number of changes made by Hilal boss Leonardo Jardim, almost had the worst of starts, spilling a low cross inside the opening 30 seconds.

The 10-time African champions continued to make the early running and it was no surprise that they took the lead after eight minutes in the simplest of fashions. The Saudi Arabian defense was nowhere to be seen when Maaloul swung the ball in from a left-sided free-kick and there was the unmarked Ibrahim to head home from close range.

Things got worse minutes later when Al-Hilal were reduced to 10 men with Pereira ejected for a rash foul. And then the Red Giants, who looked likely to score every time they entered the opponent’s half, extended their lead. 

Mohamed Hany let loose with a fierce shot from outside the area which Al-Owais did well to get a hand to, but the rebound fell to Ibrahim who headed his - and his team’s - second.

It should have been three after 25 minutes when the impressive Maaloul burst into the left side of the area and somehow dragged his shot wide of the opposite post with just the goalkeeper to beat.

There was no time to digest that miss as Al-Hilal were then reduced to nine men. The team had just managed to get a first corner and, while it was being cleared by the Egyptian defense, Kanno inexplicably kicked out at Ibrahim who collapsed to the floor. After a video check, the French referee Clement Turpin quickly showed the midfielder, who had been so impressive in earlier games, a red card.

If there was any doubt as to the game’s outcome, it was dispelled five minutes before the break. Ahmed Radwan dribbled down the left side of the penalty area and, when his attempted pass bounced back off defender Muteb Al-Muffarij, he was able to squeeze the ball in at the near post.

Al-Hilal were then playing for pride which meant avoiding a thrashing. Compared to the first, the opening period of the second half was quiet, with Al-Ahly unable to muster their earlier energy though Al-Owais was off his line quickly to make a couple of important saves inside the first 10 minutes.

Just after the hour, Al-Ahly extended their lead. A shot from outside the area by Amr El-Soleya, on the losing side for Egypt just six days earlier in the final of the African Cup of Nations, curled beautifully into the bottom corner.

Almost immediately, Moussa Marega had Al-Hilal’s first chance as he managed to break free of the Al-Ahly defense, but the Malian’s low shot was saved by Ali Lotfi. It was as good as it got for Al-Hilal as the Al-Ahly attacks continued with VAR overturning what would have been a fifth goal for offside and then Al-Owais having to make more saves.

That no more goals were scored by the 10-time African champions was a small mercy for Al-Hilal on what was the most miserable of evenings for the most successful club in the history of Saudi Arabian and Asian football.

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