Kharbin on fire as Al Hilal show Persepolis no mercy

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Al Hilal have one foot in the AFC Champions League after claiming a dominant 4-0 win over Persepolis in the first leg of their semi-final on Tuesday.

Omar Kharbin was the hero for the Saudi Arabian giants as he netted a perfect hat-trick which, in addition to a Yaseer Al-Shahrani strike, led them to victory at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium.

There is still a matter of a second leg to be played on October 17 although that already appears to be a foregone conclusion, barring a comeback of epic proportions by Persepolis.

Yet, given the way the game started in a fairly evenly-contested manner, there was no inkling that the Iranian outfit would be on the receiving end of such a beating.

It all began a minute after the half-hour mark when Kharbin opened his account for the evening, meeting Mohammed Al-Breik’s looping cross at the back post with a downward header past Alireza Beiranvand.

Al Hilal then doubled their lead five minutes before halftime when Al-Shahrani did well winning possession to start a counter and then charging forward to finish it off, although Beiranvand should have done better to keep out his fairly tame effort.

Persepolis’ chances of a second-half revival were given a huge boost just four minutes after the restart, when their opponents had Abdullah Otayf sent off for picking up two yellows in a matter of minutes.

Instead, despite the numerical deficit, it was Al Hilal who went on to score next in the 54th minute with a sweeping foray forward.

Breaking free down the right, Salem Al-Dawsari played in a well-weighted cross into the path of Kharbin, who met it with a deft finish on his left foot into the bottom corner.

By now, Persepolis were in desperate need of an away goal at the very least in order to salvage something from the encounter.

But despite having their fair share of attempts on goal, they were incapable of genuinely testing Abdullah Al-Mayouf.

It was an evening which truly belonged to Al Hilal and Kharbin made sure of that a minute from time, receiving possession 30 yards out and dancing around a couple of challenges on the edge of the box before drilling a right-footed effort into the bottom corner.

AL HILAL: Abdullah Al-Mayouf, Mohammed Al-Breik (Abdulla Al-Zori 69’), Osama Hawsawi, Abdullah Al-Hafith, Yaseer Al-Shahrani, Abdullah Otayf, Nicolas Milesi (Mohamed Kanno 77’), Salman Al-Faraj, Salem Al-Dawsari, Carlos Eduardo (Abdulmalek Al-Khaibri 71’), Omar Kharbin.

PERSEPOLIS: Alireza Beiranvand, Sadegh Moharrami, Shoja’ Khalilzadeh, Hossein Mahini, Shayan Mosleh (Bashar Resan 63’), Mohsen Rabiekhah, Farshad Ahmadzadeh (Ehsan Alvanzadeh 82’), Vahid Amiri, Mohsen Mosalman (Ahmad Nourollahi 46’), Godwin Mensha, Ali Alipour.