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Al Nassr snatches Asian Champions League spot at the eleventh hour.



Al Nassr, led by Cristiano Ronaldo, advanced to the group stage of the Asian Champions League with a victory over Shabab Al Ahli in Riyadh on Tuesday.

The Saudi Pro League team came from behind to win 4-2 in the play-off at Mrsool Park, with goals from Brazilian Anderson Talisca and Croatian international Marcelo Brozovic. Nasser was two minutes away from leaving the tournament.

The result allows Nassr, the runner-up domestically in the previous season, to advance to the group phase, which begins the following month. Ronaldo, a five-time UEFA Champions League champion, made his debut in the premier club competition in Asian football after joining the Riyadh club in December.

Nassr opened the scoring in the eleventh minute when Taslica headed in a Brozovic corner kick. After a counterattack by Dubai, Yahya Al Ghassani equalized for UAE champions Shabab Al Ahli seven minutes later, slotting the ball into the net of Nassr.

The 38-year-old Ronaldo was seen arguing with the referee as he departed the field at halftime, visibly frustrated. The Nassr captain believed he should have been awarded two penalty kicks in the first half.

Then, one minute after halftime, Al Ghassani raced past the Nassr defense and chipped the ball over Nawaf Al Aqidi to give Shabab Al Ahli the lead.

Walid Abbas deflected Sultan Al Ghannam’s header into his own net with two minutes remaining in regulation time, allowing Nassr to draw level.

Talisca scored from close range five minutes into the allotted seven minutes of injury time to complete Nassr’s comeback. Moments later, as Shabab Al Ahli pursued the equalizer, Ronaldo assisted Brozovic’s goal-scoring effort to secure the victory.

Sharjah of the United Arab Emirates qualified for the tournament proper with a 3-1 road victory over Tractor FC of Iran, while Navbahor Namangan of Uzbekistan defeated Al Wakrah of Qatar 1-0 in extra time.

In the other play-off on Tuesday, AGMK Olmaliq of Uzbekistan defeated Al Arabi of Qatar 1-0.

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