Al-Hilal's triple victory in the King's Cup

Mohamed Shalaby - | Sports

The King's Cup final between Al Hilal and Al Nassr on Friday was a thrilling spectacle that only required a penalty shootout to separate the top two teams in the Saudi Pro League.

In the end, Al Hilal prevailed in a thrilling encounter held in Jeddah in front of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

Top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic gave the newly crowned Saudi Pro League winner an early lead. With Al Nassr goalkeeper David Ospina sent off in the second half, it appeared that Al Hilal would win easily.

However, Al Hilal's Ali al-Bulayhi and Kalidou Koulibaly received two late red cards, which helped create space for Al Nassr, who used Ayman Yahya to score an equalizer in the 88th minute. In extra time, Al Nassr made an effort to extend its lead, but Al Hilal emerged victorious in the penalty shootout.

With its victories in the Saudi Super Cup in April, Al Hilal was able to secure a domestic triple in addition to claiming its third domestic double—the King's Cup and Saudi Pro League. Al Arabiya English has highlighted three important lessons from the King's Cup final.

Al Hilal's celebration was not the King's Cup final of 2024's most memorable image. Rather, it was the image of a tearful Cristiano Ronaldo, the captain of Al Nassr, that was broadcast live throughout the globe following Friday's game. Despite his advanced age, Ronaldo's dedication to Al Nassr and competitive spirit are evident in his response to the team's loss in Jeddah.

The Al Nassr captain had opportunities to increase his tally of goals this season, but Yassine Bono denied him masterfully in the first half. Coaches and teammates stood by in anticipation as he sidestepped his defender to open up space in the box. With Bono beaten, Ronaldo's incredible overhead kick against the post in the second half came within a hair's breadth of a sensational goal.

The captain of Al Nassr was next unmarked in the area during extra time and headed goalward, but Bono again brilliantly stopped him. There were parallels to the FIFA World Cup quarterfinal of 2022, where Morocco defeated Portugal thanks to a legendary victory secured by Bono, who kept Ronaldo at bay.

In Jeddah, it was once again a night for Bono rather than Ronaldo, as the great player from Portugal was unable to help his team capitalize on their one-man advantage in extra time. Ronaldo scored his own penalty in the shootout after taking a notably long breath and letting it out to gather himself, but like many Al Nassr supporters, he broke down in tears as Al Hilal hero Bono made two incredible saves in quick succession.

Even if Al Hilal's football has been of an imperious caliber this season, this is a squad that can dig into its reserves and show resiliency when needed. In Jeddah, it was more of a daring than a beautiful performance.

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Mohamed Shalaby
Mohamed Shalaby
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