In the highly-rated clash between Al-Ittihad and Al-Hilal during the Arab Club Champions Cup quarterfinals, a controversial incident involving the referee ignited outrage among fans of the Saudi Pro League teams.
During the intense match, Karim Benzema‘s pass deflected towards the referee, who appeared to intentionally kick the ball toward Al-Hilal players, halting a potential attack for Benzema and his Al-Ittihad teammates.
Although the game was restarted from the point of the incident, the damage was already done, leaving Al-Ittihad fans furious as it thwarted a promising attacking opportunity.
The referee between the Al Hilal vs Al ittihad match
— LUKESOUL (@iam_lukesoul) August 6, 2023
The incident fueled a heated debate on social media, with fans pointing out the historical bias of the referee towards Al-Hilal, adding to the discontent among supporters. Some of the fans commented about the referee, saying that “He is corrupt.”
Further controversy arose with a disputed goal scored by Al-Hilal’s Sergej Milinković-Savić in the first half, which could have been disallowed due to a foul committed by Milinković-Savić.
This particular match garnered extra attention due to the influx of high-profile players from European soccer who joined both Saudi teams, including Karim Benzema, Ruben Neves, Ngolo Kante, Sergej Milinković-Savić, Jota, and Kalidou Koulibaly.
While Al-Ittihad fans expressed their anger towards the referee, Al-Hilal players played down the incident, claiming that the referee’s kick was unintentional and that no attacking opportunity was significantly hindered since the ball was near the center of the field, posing no real danger to Al-Hilal’s goal.
Karim Benzema’s Al Ittihad suffers humiliation in Saudi El Clásico
Real Madrid fans’ hopes for a thrilling final showdown between Karim Benzema’s Al Ittihad and Cristiano Ronaldo‘s Al-Nassr were shattered after Al-Ittihad’s Quarterfinals defeat. The clash against Al-Hilal saw them face humiliation, despite being considered favorites beforehand.
Al-Ittihad’s credentials as the current champions of the Suadi Pro League and their 13-point lead over Al-Hilal in the standings had heightened expectations. The team further bolstered its already strong squad with the additions of star players like Karim Benzema, Ngolo Kante, and Jota, all under the experienced management of Nuno Espírito Santo.
Al Ittihad are knocked out of the Arab Club Cup following their 3-1 defeat to Al Hilal with Karim Benzema missing a penalty .
No Ronaldo vs Benzema in the final ❌ pic.twitter.com/2tmZNL4tvW
— CAPODESUPREMO (@CapoDeSupremo) August 5, 2023
However, at the King Fahd Stadium, Al-Hilal displayed an impressive performance, outclassing their bitter rivals Al-Ittihad and securing a spot in the semis of the Arab Club Championship Cup.
In a fixture dubbed the El-Clasico of Saudi Arabia, Karim Benzema’s frustration must have peaked when he missed a penalty during the second half, thwarting Al-Ittihad’s chances of staging a comeback.
The rivalry between Al Hilal and Al Ittihad is renowned as one of the fiercest in Saudi football. Al Hilal stands as the country’s most successful club and has even made a bid for Kylian Mbappe, adding to their formidable reputation.
On the other hand, Al Ittihad, reigning top-flight champions, has reinforced its squad with impressive signings. The upcoming season of the Saudi Pro League is highly anticipated as it promises more intense battles in the Saudi El-Clasico.