West Asian Dominant Forces Al-Hilal, Persepolis Lock Horns in 2021 ACL Quarters
- October, 15, 2021 - 18:08
- Sports news
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - AFC Champions League runner-up Persepolis lock horns with 2019 champion Al-Hilal at Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium in the second match of the 2021 quarter-finals on Saturday.
The two sides have been the dominant forces in West Asia over the past few years, with one of them reaching the final each year since 2017.
Al-Hilal was beaten by Urawa Red Diamonds in 2017 and lifted the trophy in 2019 at the expense of the same side, while Persepolis came runner-up to Kashima Antlers in 2018 and to Ulsan Hyundai in 2020.
The two quarter-finalists have been just as dominant on the domestic front, with Persepolis recording five consecutive Iran Pro League titles and Al-Hilal winning four out of the past five league titles in the Saudi Pro League, the-afc.com reported.
And while the two teams are powers to reckon with, the head-to-head record heavily favors Al-Hilal who has won three of their eight matches against Persepolis in the AFC Champions League, with the Iranian champions only winning once and four games ending in a draw.
Leading the line for Al-Hilal is French forward Bafetimbi Gomis, the 2019 AFC Champions League top scorer has four goals to his name in the current edition, and he has been the competition’s standout marksman since his debut in 2019, scoring 15 goals; a tally only matched by Al-Nassr’s Abderazzak Hamdallah.
Persepolis may not have a big-name foreign forward in its ranks, with its last 33 goals in the competition being scored by Iranian players, but in Mehdi Torabi it possesses the 2021 AFC Champions League’s leading assist provider, with the winger creating five goals this term.
Persepolis needed a last-minute goal from Torabi to send them team into the quarter-finals with a narrow 1-0 win over Tajikistan’s Istiklol FC, while Al-Hilal was more emphatic as Gomis and Salem Al Dawsari scoring either side of the break to knock out Persepolis’ arch rival Esteghlal FC in the round of 16.