HONG KONG : Talking points from the week in Asian football:
RONALDO’S SAUDI SCORING STREAK CONTINUES WITH HAT-TRICK
Cristiano Ronaldo’s scoring run continued on Saturday as the Portuguese attacker netted all three goals in Al Nassr’s 3-0 victory over Damak.
An 18th minute penalty by the former Manchester United and Real Madrid forward sent Rudi Garcia’s side on their way to victory, with Ronaldo firing a second into the bottom corner five minutes later.
The 38-year-old capped the scoring a minute before halftime when he side-footed home after Ayman Yahya cut the ball back towards the penalty spot. The goal was Ronaldo’s eighth in five league games since joining Al Nassr after the World Cup.
IGHALO HITS FOUR AS AL HILAL REACH CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL
Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo scored four goals as reigning champions Al Hilal crushed Qatar’s Al Duhail 7-0 on Sunday to secure their place in the final of the Asian Champions League.
Mali’s Moussa Marega netted twice for the four-time winners from Saudi Arabia, who will take on Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds over two legs on April 29 and May 6.
It will be a third meeting in six years between the two clubs in the title decider, with Urawa having claimed the title in 2017 and Al Hilal coming out on top two years later.
ULSAN FIGHT BACK TO KICK OFF K-LEAGUE CAMPAIGN WITH VICTORY
Ulsan Hyundai fought back from a goal down against Jeonbuk Motors on Saturday to secure a 2-1 win in the opening game of the new Korean league season.
Song Ming-kyu gave last year’s runners-up the lead in the 11th minute before Um Won-sang struck a minute before the interval to level the match.
Sweden’s Gustav Ludwigson, a close season signing from Hammarby, was introduced off the bench in the 54th minute and hit the winner 11 minutes later to give Hong Myung-bo’s side the best possible start to the campaign.
MARINOS SECURE BACK-TO-BACK WINS, NEW REDS BOSS STRUGGLES
Champions Yokohama F Marinos continued their perfect start to the new J.League campaign on Saturday with a 2-0 victory over Urawa Red Diamonds, joining Vissel Kobe and Nagoya Grampus as the only teams to win their first two matches of the season.
A first-half goal by Anderson Lopes gave Kevin Muscat’s side the lead before Yan Matheus added a second in the final minute to secure all three points at Yokohama’s International Stadium.
The defeat was the second in a row for new Urawa coach Maciej Skorza and the Pole’s team are bottom of the standings.
Urawa and Kyoto Sanga are the only teams without a point so far.
JANKOVIC APPOINTED NEW CHINA COACH
Serbian Aleksandar Jankovic has been named coach of the China national team for next year’s Asian Cup and the qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup.
The former Red Star Belgrade coach and player has been in charge of various China age group teams since 2018 and was named caretaker coach of the senior side for the East Asian Championships last year after Li Xiaopeng resigned.