By Michael Church
(Reuters) – Al-Hilal’s Aleksandar Mitrovic scored a hat-trick as the Saudi Arabian side remained in pole position in Asian Champions League Group D with a 6-0 thrashing of Mumbai City in Riyadh on Monday.
The former Fulham striker put his side ahead in the fifth minute from close range before doubling their lead midway through the second half.
That ended Mumbai’s stubborn resistance, with Sergej Milinkovic-Savic heading home a third in the 75th before Mitrovic completed his treble five minutes later with a spectacular overhead kick.
Mohammed Al Burayk hit the fifth in the 82nd minute with Abdulelah Al Malki smashing home the sixth from distance two minutes into added time.
“We lost 6-0, it’s not why we came here,” said Mumbai’s Dutch midfielder Yoell van Nieff.
“When we had the ball we could have done more. We couldn’t keep the ball and that’s the most important thing.
“Al-Hilal have a lot of quality so all credit to them.”
The Saudi Pro League side move onto seven points from three games, level with Navbahor after the Uzbekistan side came from a goal down to beat Iranian visitors Nassaji Mazandaran.
Mohammedreza Azadi put Nassaji in front a minute before the interval but Oston Urunov levelled in the 74th and Mehrdad Abdi’s own goal deep into added time earned Navbahor the win.
Only the 10 group winners are guaranteed a place in the knockout rounds, where they will be joined by the three best runners-up from the east and west of the continent.
Sharjah of the United Arab Emirates moved a point clear at the top of Group B after they survived a late scare to win 1-0 against Nasaf of Uzbekistan.
Caio Lucas put the hosts in front five minutes into first half injury time but a second yellow card late in the game for Majed Hassan left Cosmin Olaroiu’s side under pressure.
Mohammad Abdulbasit’s handball 10 minutes into added time gave Nasaf the chance to share the points but goalkeeper Adel Al Hosani kept out Azizbek Amonov’s spot kick.
Nasaf remain second on six points while Qatar’s Al Sadd are in third following their 6-0 win over 10-man Al Faisaly, with Baghdad Bounedjah completing his hat-trick after Nizar Al Rashdan was sent off late in the first half.
Saudi Arabia’s Al Ittihad needed an injury time goal from Abderrazak Hamedallah for a 1-0 win over Iraq’s Air Force Club in Group C and stay two points clear of Iran’s Sepahan for whom Ramin Rezaeian scored twice in a 3-1 victory over Uzbek side AGMK.
(Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Ken Ferris)