Al Hilal cemented their giant-killing status as they followed up their semi-final defeat of Real Madrid with a 2-0 triumph over Borussia Dortmund to be crowned champions of the Hamdan bin Mohammed 6th International Football Championship U-17 in Dubai Sunday night.
Two second-half strikes from Khalid Al Jubaya and Khalid Al Subaie were enough to secure a memorable victory in front of an ecstatic pro-Hilal crowd that included Saudi legend Sami Al Jaber.
Former Sevilla and Tottenham striker Frederic Kanoute was also in the stands for what proved to be a thrilling affair between two promising youth teams. Hilal tortured the German side with incredible pace throughout the 90 minutes and were deserved winners.
“Thanks to the club’s vision and the enormous amount of work they’ve put in – this is proof the right kind of work has started in the age-group teams at Al Hilal,” said Al Jaber, who spent 20 years playing for the Saudi club and coached them in the 2013-2014 season.
“We need to keep evolving. The Madrid and Dortmund players we just beat, perhaps they will become stars at major European clubs within a few years; our own players must truly believe that they too can become stars in Europe but that won’t happen without evolving our vision.
Dortmund netted in the 11th minute through Georgis Pinditis’ long-range strike but it was deemed offside, before Hilal’s Ali Al Assaf hit the post. Dortmund’s Ozkan Terzioglu almost broke the deadlock before the break but ‘keeper Nawaf Al Ghamdi intervened.
A sensational long-range strike from tournament top-scorer Al Jubaya sent the crowd into frenzy early in the second half and Al Subaie doubled Hilal’s advantage on the hour with a header from a corner.
“I’m so happy because these players bring so much for me throughout the year, it was such a tough match, and they brought us everything we could possibly ask for,” said Hilal coach, Juan Ignacio Brown.
Dortmund had beaten Hilal 2-1 in the group stages but were unable to replicate that performance. Still, coach Christian Fluthmann was satisfied with their tournament.
“Hilal were faster and fresher and our team was very tired. We were too nervous and we showed too much respect to Hilal, so that was the key,” said Fluthmann. “But I’m very proud of our team because we ended up taking second place with an U-16 squad at an U-17 tournament. It’s a great result and I’m very proud of it.”
Earlier in the day, Real Madrid beat Internacional 3-1 in a penalty shootout to claim third place.
Denis Irwin appeared at the West Beach Bistro and Sports Lounge at the Movenpick Hotel in Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach Residence area earlier this month and answered all questions Manchester United, Ireland and beyond at one of the venue’s popular Q&A sessions.
The Irishman was a Red Devils’ stalwart for 12 years, signing from Oldham for a paltry £650,000 (Dh 3.4m) in 1990.
He would go on to lift seven Premier League titles, three FA Cups as well as the 1999 Champions League.
Sir Alex Ferguson has described Irwin as his best ever signing and claimed he would be the first name on the team-sheet in any United best XI during his 26-year tenure.
Among the things Irwin, eighth on the list of most appearances for United (529), discussed with Sport360 reporter Matthew Jones was his best United XI that he ever played with:
I think he was the best ‘keeper in the world when he played at United
Right-back: Gary Neville
Worked as hard as a dog, probably worked harder than anybody, and he was a more talented player than he got credit for
Centre-back: Jaap Stam
I would put Jaap in there as he was tailor-made for the Premier League. He was quick and his impact is summed up by how Sir Alex admitted it was a mistake to let him go
Centre-back: Gary Pallister
Pally was a really cultured centre-half, quick as anything
Left-back: Lee Sharpe
Sharpey was a talented boy and a great player
Midfielder: Bryan Robson
He and Keaney were very similar. They were both marauding, box-to-box midfielders in their time and as they got older they played as holding players. The two of them were as tough as anyone and you’d be delighted to have them in your dressing room. Robbo dragged United through the difficult period of the 1980’s
Midfielder: Paul Scholes
Scholesy is an obvious choice, just because of his talent. In the brain he was a millisecond quicker than everyone
Midfielder: Roy Keane
I was just delighted to be in the same dressing room as Keaney. He was hungry and desperate for success. The three midfielders I’ve gone for were probably the three best players I ever played with
Right wing: David Beckham
I’d like to have had Andrei (Kanchelskis) maybe, but I’d pick Beckham purely for his crosses
Left wing: Ryan Giggs
Giggsy helped me so much, even though I played 10 years behind him. He was a superb player
Striker: Eric Cantona
I’ve got a bit of a dilemma up front because I can’t decide between Eric or Ruud (Van Nistelrooy) but I’ll pick Eric because he was special, I’d have to put Eric in there. That’s a tough team there
Cristiano Ronaldo revelled in the glory of scoring a hat-trick to inspire a stunning Real Madrid comeback to reach the Champions League semi-finals with a 3-2 aggregate victory over Wolfsburg on Tuesday night while Manchester City made the last four of the competition for the first time with a 1-0 win over PSG.
And Sport360 has dissected the drama through our online gallery.