Olunga's Al-Duhail go down fighting to Ronaldo's Al-Nassr

Wednesday October 25 2023
Michael Olunga

Al-Duhail's Kenyan forward Michael Olunga (C) holds the ball as he celebrates after scoring a goal during the AFC Champions League Group E football match between Saudi's Al-Nassr and Qatar’s Al-Duhail at the King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on October 24, 2023. PHOTO | AFP


Kenya's Michael Olunga scored once and had a goal disallowed as Al-Duhail's hopes of progressing to the next round of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League suffered in a 4-3 loss against hosts Al-Nassr in Pool E in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.

The match pitted some of the top strikers in Asia with Olunga, the 2021 Champions League top scorer, leading Al-Duhail, and Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and African Footballer of the Year Senegalese forward Sadio Mane on the Al-Nassr side.

Qatari giants Al-Duhail fell behind in the 25th minute after Brazilian midfielder Anderson Talisca scored from a Ronaldo assist. Mane doubled Al-Nassr's lead on 52 minutes.

Read: Four-goal Olunga seals league title for Al Duhail

Olunga thought he had equalised on 55 minutes, but his goal was disallowed after a VAR check.

Ronaldo made it 3-0 on 62 minutes, with Ismaeel Mohammad pulling one goal back seconds later. Almoez Ali reduced the deficit to 3-2 from a Philippe Coutinho assist.


Former Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus striker Ronaldo grabbed his second goal of the match again from a Sultan Al Ghannam on 81 minutes.

Olunga, who emerged the top scorer in Qatar Stars League over the last two seasons, got on the score sheet from an Almoez assist on 85 minutes, but his side could not find an equaliser.

Al-Duhail's loss leaves them with a single point from the first three matches after being held to a goalless draw by Istiklol (Tajikistan) and suffering a 1-0 loss at the hands of Persepolis from Iran in the first two fixtures.

Al-Nassr are on top of the group on nine points after grounding out three consecutive wins. Al-Duhail went into their third fixture boasting of a good history against the Saudi Arabian side with two victories and a similar number of draws. 

Read: Olunga eyes Best Player accolade after league success

Persepolis hammered Istiklol 2-0 in another match on Tuesday to reach six points and complicate matters for Al-Duhail.

Winners of the 10 groups and six second best-placed sides will qualify for Round of 16.