Saudi's Al-Hilal edge out Al-Nasr for Super Cup in London
Originally scheduled to be held at the King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh, the fixture was moved in an effort to find a wider audience
All eyes were on Saudi football club Al-Hilal at London’s Loftus Road stadium on Wednesday when it edged it out its rival Al-Nasr 1-0 for the Saudi Super Cup.
Thousands of fans converged in West London to watch the rival clubs battle it out for the first time outside of the Gulf Arab Kingdom.
Originally scheduled to be held at the King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh, the fixture was moved in an effort to find a wider audience for Saudi football’s brightest showcase.
Al-Hilal started the as the stronger team out of the two sides but Al-Nasr went closest to opening the scoring in the first half as Fabian Estoyanoff struck the post with a clean-curled free-kick.
Al-Hilal’s Mohammad Al Shalhoub went close for his team’s chances of scoring but his free-kick attempt was denied by Al-Nasr’s Hussain Shaian.
Fans finally saw a successful goal when Al-Hilal’s Carlos Eduardo's second-half strike sealed the 1-0 win at the 63 minute mark.
Saudi Arabia’s Football Federation (SAFF) told the Guardian that they chose London as choice of location for holding their first overseas match because of the “amount of expatriates living here and also the amount of tourists,” SAFF’s Mohammed Ahmed told the Guardian.
“We wanted to show off the best of Saudi Arabia,” Ahmed says. “We are passionate about football, it is our national sport and we wanted to spread the word,” he added.
The match created a social media buzz on Saudi Arabia with the hashtag #SuperCupinLondon trending early Thursday morning.
Both teams share the same King Fahd stadium in Riyadh and regularly attract crowds of 50,000 for important league games.
Local television showed the game live and the press area at Loftus Riad was over capacity. The game is expected to be the lead story in newspapers back home on Thursday.