Change in approach pays off for Al Nassr in AFC Champions League win against Foolad Khouzestan

Al Nassr head coach Mano Menezes said the new approach his side had against Foolad Khouzestan FC earned them a convincing 2-0 victory in Group D of the 2021 AFC Champions League on Friday.

After a goalless first half, Al Nassr sealed the three points thanks to goals from Abdulfattah Asiri and Abderrazak Hamdallah as the Saudi club claimed their second win of the competition.

The win maintained Al Nassr at the top of the standings on eight points, one ahead of Qatar’s Al Sadd while Foolad are on five with two Matchdays remaining.

“It is always very hard to play back-to-back matches against the same opponents,” said Menezes in the post-match press conference. “We implemented some new things that we thought of from the previous match.

“We had a good start unlike when we played against Foolad in the first match. We improved our performance in the second half and managed to take the lead.

“Our opponents put some pressure on us to level the score but this gave us a chance to counter-attack, which helped us score the second goal,” said the 58-year-old coach.

Menezes praised the performance of Waleed Abdullah, who replaced the COVID-19 struck Brad Jones, with the goalkeeper’s vital saves against Al Nassr seeing him named Player-of-the-Match.

“In football there are several unique things and today our goalkeeper made the difference,” he said. “We are happy with what he did and he was the star of the match.

“This victory is very important as it put us at the top of the group. We are confident that we can win the next match in order to get close to qualifying.”

Foolad head coach Jesus Javier Noble said his side controlled the match but made critical mistakes which gave Al Nassr the chance to score.

“We dominated the match in the first half but in the early minutes of the second period, we made a mistake in one of the passes from which Al Nassr scored,” said Noble.

“After this goal, we put pressure on our opponents to level the tie and we had some scoring chances but Al Nassr scored the second from a quick counter attack.”

“We controlled the ball more but we failed to score from the chances that we created and this is one of the most important things in such matches,” he added.

“We still have two matches and we will try our best to win in order to remain in contention and advance to the next stage of the competition.”

Foolad play Al Sadd on Monday while Al Nassr face Jordan’s Al Wehdat.

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