Al Hilal turn on power against AGMK to get AFC Champions League campaign back on track

The 4-1 loss to FC Istiklol last time out was a distant memory for Rogerio Micale’s side, who powered to victory thanks to goals from Luciano Vietto, Bafetimbi Gomis and Yasir Al Shahrani.

The three-time Asian champions have now accrued 10 points from five matches, but remain behind Istiklol - who beat Shabab Al Ahli 1-0 in Tuesday's other tie - by virtue of their head-to-head record, while AGMK’s defeat provided early confirmation of a group stage exit in their maiden AFC Champions League campaign.

Al Hilal came into the match desperate to atone for Saturday’s shock defeat, while AGMK were playing for their survival, and the high stakes made for an entertaining start, with Jang Hyun-soo and Sanjar Shaakhmedov trading early chances before the hosts steadily seized control.

Gomis missed two headed chances before forcing Botirali Ergashev into a save with an effort from distance, and it was Vietto who turned Al Hilal’s momentum into something more tangible when he made it 1-0 in the 39th minute.

Luciano Vietto-AGMk v Al Hilal-ACL2021

The Argentine star’s strike was the result of his positivity, running at the heart of the AGMK defence before slamming the ball in from 25 yards, with a slight deflection from Bobur Yuldashov removing what little hope Ergashev had of keeping the shot out.

Mirdjalol Kasimov’s men suffered another major setback when Gomis doubled the lead less than two minutes into the second half, making up for his earlier misses by emphatically heading Mohammed Kanno’s inch-perfect cross beyond Ergashev from 12 yards.

Bafetimbi Gomis-AGMK v Al Hilal-ACL2021

The game was now totally under Al Hilal’s spell, and they extended their lead to three when Al Shahrani scored from close range after his overlapping run was honoured by Vietto in the 58th minute.

Nasser Al Dawsari almost took the honours for the best goal of the match when he rocketed a 30-yard drive against the crossbar with 15 minutes remaining, but that was one of the few things that didn’t go Al Hilal’s way on a night where they categorically reasserted their quality.

Al Hilal's knockout stage hopes now rest heavily on Friday’s Matchday Six clash against Shabab Al Ahli Dubai, while AGMK, who could still play an important role in the final analysis, will meet Istiklol.

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