Karim Benzema’s Penalty Miss Costs Al Ittihad in Club World Cup Exit
Al Ittihad‘s premature departure from the Club World Cup unfolded as they succumbed to a 3-1 defeat against African champions Al Ahly.
Al Ahly seized an early advantage with Ali Maaloul converting a penalty. Karim Benzema had an opportunity to level the score just before halftime with a penalty kick, but his feeble attempt was expertly thwarted by goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy.
This pivotal moment set the tone as Al Ittihad struggled to regain momentum in the second half. Al Ahly capitalized on their dominance, securing a two-goal lead in quick succession just after the 60-minute mark.
Although Benzema managed to find the net in the 92nd minute, his late contribution proved inconsequential as Al Ittihad ultimately crumbled to a 3-1 defeat.
This early exit means that Marcelo Gallardo’s squad departs the tournament prematurely, paving the way for later entrants, including Manchester City, the reigning Champions League victors.
The Club World Cup, featuring champions from Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania, granted Al Ittihad a spot as the host nation’s champions, with this year’s competition hosted in Saudi Arabia.
Despite boasting a star-studded roster, bolstered by high-profile acquisitions such as Benzema, N’Golo Kante, Fabinho, Jota, and Luiz Felipe during the recent transfer window, Al Ittihad fell short. Their journey included a convincing 3-0 victory over Auckland City in the first round but concluded in disappointment with a second-round defeat to Al Ahly.
The tournament served as a platform for the Saudi side to showcase their impressive signings to the global audience, yet it concludes with their premature elimination, leaving Al Ahly to face Copa Libertadores winners Fluminese, while Manchester City is set to take on AFC Champions League victors Urawa Red Diamonds.