By Sports Reporter/ Doha
Bafetimbi Gomis came off the bench to score a stunning goal and lead Al Hilal to a 1-0 win over Esperance Sportive de Tunis in the quarter-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar yesterday.
A keenly-contested encounter between the top sides of Asia and Africa was settled when the French striker produced a sublime moment of skill and cool finish to leave the crowd at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium astonished.
Saudi Arabia’s Hilal now take on South American champions Flamengo in the semi-finals on Tuesday.
Gomis, who has had spells at Swansea City, Olympique Lyonnais and Galatasaray, ran onto a ball between the Esperance defence, flicked it over Mohamed Ali Yacoubi’s sliding challenge and, without letting it touch the ground, fired into the far corner in the 73rd minute.
The Frenchman, who was the top-scorer in the Asian Champions League with 11 goals, had only been on the field for eight minutes before his strike. For Esperance, it was another forgettable experience at the Club World Cup, as the Tunisians were knocked out in their first match just like the two other times they have taken part in the competition.
Both teams had been evenly matched from the outset in a frenetic and lively clash. Esperance, backed by a noisy contingent of fans, had the first real chance after the Al Hilal defence lost the ball, but Anice Badri shot wide with the goalkeeper out of his ground.
Carlos Eduardo wasted Al Hilal’s first opening when he took a heavy first touch after Andre Carillo sent him clear, and his shot was smothered by goalkeeper Moez Ben Cherifia. Hilal’s Syrian striker Omar Khrbin also missed a big chance when his goal-bound shot from inside the box hit a defender. The Asian champions ended the opening period the stronger as Carrillo’s effort needed both Charifia and Yakoubi to keep it out.
Hilal continued to be the better side as Mohamed Kano sent his shot over the bar early in the second half after he was found by Carillo.
Esperance were nearly gifted a goal though, when Al Hilal’s Yasser al-Shahrani slid in to intercept a pass through the middle but sent the ball looping towards his own goal and goalkeeper Abdullah al-Mayouf clawed it away just in time.
Having been benched as a precautionary measure, Gomis took just eight minutes to produce a magical winner. With the deadlock broken, Hilal had to play the last few minutes with 10 men after Mohamed Kanno was given two yellow cards in quick succession and sent off.
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