Al Hilal vs Navbahor score, result, highlights as Neymar endures disappointing draw in AFC Champions League opener
Al Hilal, eight-time AFC Champions League winners, are understandably thought to be one of the competition’s favourites to lift yet another continental trophy this year, especially after the summer acquisition of stars Neymar, Aleksandar Mitrovic, and Ruben Neves.
Yet they’ll be left to pick up the pieces after a disappointing 1-1 draw to Uzbekistan club Navbahor Namangan to open Group D.
Al Hilal only just barely earned the single point, too, as Ali Al Boleahi’s equaliser in the 100th minute saved them from a truly embarrassing defeat, using nearly all of the generous 14 minutes of stoppage time they were afforded to turn around the deficit.
Not only did Toma Tabatadze’s 52nd-minute goal nearly give Navbahor a famous result, but it also put Al Hilal under real pressure to survive in the competition.
Unlike its European sister competition, the AFC Champions League only tabs group winners with automatic qualification to the knockout round, while six of the 10 runners-up move on to the round of 16 alongside them.
Al Hilal were utterly putrid throughout the 90 minutes of regulation, completely devoid of inspiration as they looked to break down the organized Uzbek side. Neymar was bright in moments, but Navbahor stymied the Brazilian with persistent but smart fouling, consistently testing the referee’s leniency.
Eventually, Al Boleahi managed to turn home a header 10 minutes deep in stoppage time thanks largely to a goalkeeping mistake which spoiled the truly famous result for Navbahor. With Al Hilal missing a few star signings thanks to the strict AFC Champions League roster rules that restrict foreign players, their replacements were unable to secure all three points.
The Sporting News followed the Al Hilal vs. Navbahor Namangan match live, providing score updates, commentary and highlights as they happened below.
Al Hilal vs Navbahor final score
|Al Hilal||1||Al Boleahi (90+10′)|
Al Hilal (4-2-3-1, right to left): 21. Al Owais (GK) — 66. Abdulhamid (Al Hamddan, 89′), 87. Tambakti, 5. Al Bulayhi, 12. Al Shahrani (Al Dawsari, 74′) — 8. Neves (Al Burayk, 89′), 7. Al Faraj (Kanno, 74′) — 96. Michael, 77. Malcom, 10. Neymar — 9. Mitrovic.
Navbahor (3-4-3, right to left): 1. Yusupov (GK) — 13. Ivanovic, 5. Milovic, 6. Yuldoshev (Yakhshiboev, 83′) — 14. Boltaboev, 17. Ismoilov (Abdukholiqov, 71′), 10. Iskanderov, 7. Urunov — 22. Golban, 91. Tabatadze (Cermelj, 83′), 77. Sobirjonov (Abdumannopov, 54′).
MORE: A full overview of all 2023/24 AFC Champions League fixtures, schedule, results, and more
Al Hilal vs Navbahor live updates, highlights, commentary
FULLTIME: Al Hilal 1-1 Navbahor
Well, Al Hilal are VERY lucky not to have slumped to an embarrassing defeat, and conversely, Navbahor will be gutted to not have taken all three points in a famous win, but the feeling is the same. Al Hilal were horrid in Neymar’s full debut, only just barely managing to secure a draw thanks to the late equaliser coming off a goalkeeping mistake.
Jorge Jesus has a lot to rectify if Al Hilal wish to position themselves atop Group C, and without a few of his European stars, they will have plenty to sort out in the coming days and weeks. For now, they sit outside the top spot after the first match.
Al Hilal vs Navbahor: Second Half
90+13 mins: Chance, Al Hilal! A corner sees Yusupov wander into no-man’s land, and with the goal gaping, Navbahor are only saved by a heroic block at the last moment.
90+10 mins: GOAL! AL HILAL! Oh no, just moments after a wonderful save, the goalkeeper Utkir Yusupov makes a horrible mistake! Michael’s cross finds the head of centre-back Ali Al Boleahi, and it tucks right into the corner. Yusupov embarrassingly let it go, seemingly thinking the ball would be headed around the outside of the post and off target! That’s utterly gutting for the visitors!
90+8 mins: Neymar goes down in the penalty area trying to dribble through half the Navbahor defence, but the referee waves away the protests. The right call once again, as replay shows there’s absolutely nothing in that. Essentially no contact at all.
90+7 min: Chance, Al Hilal! WHAT A SAVE BY YUSUPOV! He stops a fabulous effort from Aleksandar Mitrovic, going down full stretch to his right to make the stop! That was the moment to equalise!
90+3 min: Brilliant defending by the substitute Luka Cermelj who hems Michael in and only concedes a corner instead of a dangerous cross entering the goal mouth area. It’s cleared away by the Navbahor defensive unit, but they’re under real siege now.
Neymar shouts for a penalty but his flick very clearly hit the defender in the chest with his arms down by his side, there’s nothing in that.
89th min: Chance, Navbahor! Mohamed Al Owais keeps the home side in this with a brilliant save! Jasur Yakhshiboev is through on goal past the very high Al Hilal line, but Al Owais closes down the chance and makes the one-on-one save to keep this result in question! What a stop!
The fourth official shows an absolutely outlandish 14 minutes of stoppage time, which is a huge boost to the Riyadh crowd who roars in approval.
88th min: Neymar heads into the waiting arms of Uldat Yusupov! They just can’t find a way through.
Jorge Jesus brings off Ruben Neves and brings on Mohammed Al Burayk, while Abdullah Al Hamddan also enters.
86th min: In a moment that sums up the Al Hilal performance, Neymar deliciously feeds through Saud Abdulhamid, but the latter’s first touch completely lets him down and sees the ball run harmlessly out over the end line.
80th min: Al Hilal look completely lost as they try to break down Navbahor’s defensive structure. Eventually, Mohamed Kanno is forced to take a shot from distance which barely troubles the goalkeeper.
The visitors aren’t even hiding their time-wasting tactics, as no fewer than three players go down needing treatment for cramps, which brings an annoyed roar from the crowd.
Or, it seems at first to be time-wasting, but Ibrokhim Yuldoshev signals that he needs a substitution, so despite the optics, it does appear that he is struggling with a real problem. The Navbahor bench readies a replacement in Jasur Yakhshiboev. Luka Cermelj is also brought onto take the place of goal scorer Tabatadze.
🚨🚨🚨ثلاث لاعبين من نافباخور يسقطون على ارضية الملعب😅!! pic.twitter.com/TyEvMDZXvz
— بيت الهلال (@baytAlhilal) September 18, 2023
74th min: Needing two goals to avoid bitter disappointment, Jorge Jesus finally makes his first substitutions, bringing on Mohamed Kanno and Nasser Al Dawsari. It’s a bit late for changes that have been needed for quite some time, arguably all the way back to the start of the second half.
The cooling break arrives shortly after the changes, and the Portuguese boss will have to inspire a late comeback as he drops to a knee and furiously scribbles with his tactics board.
69th min: Chance, Al Hilal! Oh no, Michael’s in on goal but makes a poor decision at the critical moment! Al Hilal combine well down the right, but with Michael given space to shoot from a tight angle on the right, he instead tries to unselfishly cut it back to set up a tap-in, but there’s nobody there! He should have shot!
After the chance, Arbrorbek Ismoilov needs to be replaced after picking up a knock, with Temurkhuja Abdukholiqov entering the pitch. The substitute is a positive one, interestingly, as Abdukholiqov is a forward to replace a midfielder.
64th min: More time-wasting from Navbahor as multiple players are down on the ground writhing in pain following somewhat innocuous challenges. It’s a problem for Ibrokhim Yuldoshev who makes an excellent tackle on the left flank and then immediately knocks the ball out of play to receive treatment.
At the same time, the substitute Doniyor Abdumannopov is carted off with ice on his right ankle following his attempted dribble down the touchline. It remains to be seen whether the substitute needs his own replacement.
60th min: As he has been all his career, Neymar continues to be the target of persistent fouling. It’s starting to frustrate the Brazilian, and he’s booked for pushing down a Navbahor player who’s standing too close while he attempts to take a free-kick. In honesty, Neymar is lucky there’s not further punishment, as it was a bit daft from him to shove the opponent and then clock him with his attempted restart.
Abrorbek Ismoilov is also booked for his attempt to hold up the free-kick.
نيمار غاضب. pic.twitter.com/kkz5oR9ZbD
— منبر الهلال – Mnbr Alhilal (@MnbrAlhilal) September 18, 2023
55th min: Chance, Al Hilal! The hosts are looking for an immediate response, and Ruben Neves nearly produces a stunner from distance, as he meets a corner on the volley from outside the penalty area, and forces the goalkeeper to make a very fine save, tipping the effort over the bar.
54th min: Straightaway, Navbahor make a change as Doniyor Abdumannopov, a midfielder, comes on to replace Asadbek Sobirjonov. It’s a defensive change, and understandably so.
52nd min: GOAL! NAVBAHOR! The hosts are absolutely stunned as Toma Tabatadze has put Navbahor ahead on the counter! All he needed was a through-ball and managed to take on a defender one-on-one, finding space at the near post to ripple the back of the net with just their third shot of the match!
Watch in USA:
Al-Hilal are currently 1-0 down to Uzbekistan club Navbahor with under 30′ to go. 👀
Al-Hilal started the likes of Neymar, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Malcom & Ruben Neves. 😮 pic.twitter.com/1EBQCsBqgS
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) September 18, 2023
Kickoff: Here’s to hoping the second half provides a bit more action. Al Hilal were awful in breaking down Navbahor’s bunkered defensive unit, and it will be interesting to see what Jorge Jesus has cooked up to help see them find a way through.
HALFTIME: Al Hilal 0-0 Navbahor
It’s a positive defensive showing from the Uzbekistan club, as they almost completely hemmed in Al Hilal in Riyadh. Neymar and Michael were bright, but they have had very little help in the attacking third. Aleksandar Mitrovic has not proven a threat, and nobody else in the home side has stepped up to help create chances on goal.
Navbahor have hardly seen any attacking possession at all, but their physicality has balanced well, picking up just one yellow card but managing to batter the hosts into submission to this point. Eight fouls by the visitors, three of which were drawn by Neymar, yet it’s seen Al Hilal manage just seven shots, with only one ending up on target.
— AlHilal Saudi Club (@Alhilal_EN) September 18, 2023
Al Hilal vs Navbahor: First Half
45+1 min: Chance, Al Hilal! Neymar deftly chips Michael through down the left, and his cross sails over the head of Aleksandar Mitrovic but falls to the feet of a leaping Saud Abdulhamid. The right-back’s shot is poor and goes wayward, but now Mitrovic is down on the turf after colliding with a defender.
43rd min: Navbahor goalkeeper Utkir Yusupov, who plays for the Uzbekistan national team, is left in a heap on the ground after taking a cheeky shoulder from Aleksandar Mitrovic. Yusupov rose high to meet a long ball that was too deep for the Serbian striker, but while midair, Mitrovic caught him with a bit of a naughty bump.
Yusupov goes down like a sack of potatoes, but it’s all a bit much for the low level of contact, and you won’t be shocked to hear that he’s eventually up and able to continue. The time-wasting tactics from the visitors have been evident. It’s not done much logistically, as four minutes of added time are shown.
40th min: Chance, Al Hilal! Michael and Salman Al Faraj combine for an utterly gorgeous one-two on the left edge of the penalty area, but as Michael receives the return, he delivers a dangerous cross along the face of goal to nobody. Aleksandar Mitrovic will be disappointed he was not better positioned to finish that off.
36th min: Al Hilal are really turning the screw now, and it’s been their Brazilian trio who are the leaders up front. Malcom also has an opening from a very tight angle thanks to a silky first touch to bring down a corner, but he misses badly with his shot, blasting it high.
Neymar is pummeled by Ibrokhim Yuldoshev on the right touchline, who is lucky not to be booked.
28th min: The first yellow card of the match is given to Navbahor defender Filip Ivanovic who has a tug of Malcom’s shirt just a few feet outside the top of the penalty area.
On this dangerous free-kick, three Brazilians stand over it initially, but it was always going to be Neymar who would take, and his effort is tame. He tried a cheeky low delivery under the wall, but he scuffs it and the goalkeeper can easily scoop it up.
That brings us to a cooling break, with temperatures in Riyadh reaching up above 100 degrees fahrenheit (38 Celcius) today, and around 95 degrees (35 Celcius) right now.
26th min: Chance, Al Hilal! The first truly dangerous attempt on goal of the match sees Aleksandar Mitrovic have a go in some space from a tight angle, but it’s deflected well wide of the posts and goes out for a corner. Neymar’s delivery is headed clear.
— AlHilal Saudi Club (@Alhilal_EN) September 18, 2023
23rd min: There’s a real problem for Navbahor as Ibrokhim Yuldoshev is in real pain, holding his arm after a challenge. He looks to be in real pain, and then suddenly pops back up and manages to recover enough to take a free-kick. It’s a true miracle.
19th min: Al Hilal earn a corner after Neymar runs a counter-attack. The Brazilian trudges over to take, and the goalkeeper comes to punch. He gets his mits to the ball, but also manages to pummel Aleksandar Mitrovic in the process.
Eventually, Neymar recycles and earns another corner. This one’s taken short and is wasted.
17th min: Navbahor have their best moment as the goalkeeper Utkir Yusupov springs an attack straight from the punt as he drives one over the midway line for Toma Tabatdze, but after a long delay while dribbling against Hassan Tambakti, the offside flag goes up. Replay shows it was very tight, not only with the last defender but also with Tabatdze just barely leaning into the attacking half.
13th min: It’s back to the fouling as the teams trade bad tackles and poor 50/50 duels. Navbahor have defended well but hardly have seen any possession in the attacking half.
Just like that, Al Hilal give it away in their own half but manage to get it back after the visitors look to dribble forward through the middle.
8th min: This is better from Al Hilal, who are beginning to build into the match and have another corner as Michael bursts down the right wing and is only dispossessed at the last moment by his defender who pokes the ball over the end line.
It’s Ruben Neves who will take this time from the opposite flag, but before he can do so the referee has to sort out some nonsense in the penalty area as Neymar and Ibrokhim Yuldoshev both end up on the deck. Replay shows it’s all a bit ridiculous, as Yuldoshev flopped and ended up tripping Neymar in the process.
The eventual delivery is again cleared.
4th min: Al Hilal earn a corner, the first of the game, which Neymar delivers, but it’s punched out by the Navbahor goalkeeper.
In truth, the early stages of this match have featured more physicality than attacking impetus, as both teams have looked to unsettle the other.
Kickoff: The match is under way from Riyadh! Three points here are essential for Al Hilal, after the other match in Group D play saw the visiting team pick up a victory. Remember, only the group winner is guaranteed to advance to the Round of 16, while the runner-up must sweat out the second-place table!
Al Hilal fans made sure to remind their opponents today of their success in this competition, having won the AFC Champions League on eight different occasions, the last coming two years ago.
جماهير الهلال تستعرض البطولات الآسيوية 💙 pic.twitter.com/0xvVunDmPb
— منبر الهلال – Mnbr Alhilal (@MnbrAlhilal) September 18, 2023
Al Hilal vs Navbahor: Pre-match commentary, analysis, stats, and more
15 mins to kick: In the other Group D match earlier today, Iranian club Nassaji Mazandaran won on the road at Mumbai City by a 2-0 score to pick up three huge points early on. The visitors got one goal in each half, with 23-year-old Iranian striker Mohammad Azadi, one of the club’s most valuable players, bagging the second.
You can get a full overview of all the group stage fixtures, results, and standings here.
📊 AFCCL 23/24 Group D team and player values:
🇸🇦 Al-Hilal – €258M
👤 Neymar €60M, Savic €50M
🇺🇿 Navbahor – €10M
👤 Iskandarov €0.8M, Urunov €0.8M
🇮🇳 Mumbai City – €5M
👤 Nieff €0.5M, Diaz €0.4M
🇮🇷 FC Nassaji – €5M
👤 Azadi €0.4M, Hardani €0.4M
📰 Transfermarkt pic.twitter.com/5XsZNGcD8u
— Sevens Football (@sevensftbl) August 24, 2023
30 mins to kick: Over in Iran, Al Hilal’s Saudi rivals Al Nassr are playing a road group stage match against Persepolis tomorrow. The scenes in Tehran are incredible, as fans mob the Al Nassr bus in the streets after arriving the day before their match.
It’s likely that Neymar and Al Hilal see similar treatment when they travel for a road game themselves in Iran, plus densely populated India.
— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTS_EN) September 18, 2023
45 mins to kick: The AFC Champions League’s roster rules have made headlines in the leadup to the start of the competition, as it has caused problems for the Saudi clubs in particular, who are not able to roster their new star players that arrived en masse this summer.
According to the competition’s official regulations, rosters may only include five players from outside the club’s home nation, while a sixth is allowed if they also hold the nationality of the home nation.
That’s played out here today goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, and midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic do not appear in the squad at all for Al Hilal. Their five internationals registered are Neymar (Brazil), Malcom (Brazil), Michael (Brazil), Aleksandar Mitrovic (Serbia), and Ruben Neves (Portugal).
Al Hilal escalado com Neymar titular para a estreia na Champions asiática contra o Navbahor.
Pelo limite de estrangeiros, ficam fora Bono, Koulibaly e Milinkovic-Savic.
ESPN e Star+ transmitem às 15h. pic.twitter.com/uJDeWpBs7p
— Leonardo Bertozzi (@lbertozzi) September 18, 2023
1 hour to kickoff: Lineups are in and it is confirmed that Neymar will make his first start for Al Hilal, installed into the starting lineup alongside a few of the team’s other stars, while others are left on the sidelines due to roster limitations.
— AlHilal Saudi Club (@Alhilal_EN) September 18, 2023
1 hour 15 mins to kick: The stakes for this AFC Champions League match are a bit higher than fans of the UEFA continental tournament are used to. While in Europe, the top two teams advance automatically to the knockout round, that’s not necessarily the case here.
The group winner qualifies directly to the knockout stage, but the second-place finisher must be amongst the top six in the runners-up table to reach the Round of 16. Points are even more valuable in each group match with the knowledge that any slip could result in a failure to advance.
Because of that, the AFC Champions League has instituted VAR for the group stage for the first time in the competition’s history.
🔸 Return of home and away matches
🔸 VAR in Group Stage for the first time
— #ACL (@TheAFCCL) September 14, 2023
1 hour 30 mins to kickoff: American fans tuning in to the AFC Champions League may recognise a few of the names in the Navbahor Namangan lineup today, as goalkeeper Uktir Yusupov and midfielder Oston Urunov both started the Uzbekistan friendly against the United States 11 days ago.
Yusupov was forced into three saves as the United States won 3-0, while Urunov struggled in a No. 10 role, overshadowed in the attacking third by full-back Khojiakbar Alijonov who plays for rival Uzbekistan club Pakhtakor Tashkent.
Tim Weah gives USMNT the early lead 🚀
Watch USA vs. Uzbekistan on TNT 📺 pic.twitter.com/NmKIxbgeff
— B/R Football (@brfootball) September 9, 2023
Al Hilal vs Navbahor lineups & team news
After making his debut for Al Hilal off the bench on Friday, Neymar is slotted straight into the starting XI for their first Champions League clash. He played significant minutes for Brazil over the international break, and now looks to hit the ground running with his new club.
New signings Malcom and Ruben Neves have been regular starters since arriving, and they get the nod here. Likewise with Aleksandar Mitrovic despite supposedly dealing with a foot injury for some time at Fulham.
However, Kalidou Koulibaly and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic have been harshly left off the roster due to the limits on foreign players in the AFC Champions League.
Al Hilal confirmed starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Al Owais (GK) — Abdulhamid, Tambakti, Al Bulayhi, Al Shahrani — Neves, Al Faraj — Michael, Malcom, Neymar — Mitrovic
Al Hilal subs (11): Al Wutaian (GK), Al Hamddan, Abu Rasen, Al Dawsari, Kanno, Al Burayk, Al Qahtani, Jahfali, Mufarrij, Al Dawsari, Al Shehri.
For Navbahor this will be their first game since the international break and there are no known injuries or suspensions to worry about, although the absence of midfielder Jovan Djokic from the squad entirely begs a few questions.
Goalkeeper Uktir Yusupov and midfielder Oston Urunov were heavily involved with the Uzbekistan national team during the September international break in friendlies against CONCACAF sides United States and Mexico, while Jamshid Iskanderov also appeared briefly off the bench.
Navbahor confirmed starting lineup (3-4-3): Yusupov (GK) — Ivanovic, Milovic, Yuldoshev — Boltaboev, Ismoilov, Iskanderov, Urunov — Golban, Tabatadze, Sobirjonov.
Navbahor subs (10): Nesterov (GK), Akhmedov, Khashimov, Olimzhonov, Abdumannopov, Buriev, Cermelj, Muminov, Jurabekkov, Abdukholiqov.
How to watch Al Hilal vs Navbahor
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