Al-Ettifaq opened its campaign with a 2-1 win over last year’s runners-up Al-Nassr, who fielded a weakened team and was without Cristiano Ronaldo after he came off injured following his double in Saturday’s final.
Two former Liverpool players -- Sadio Mane and Jordan Henderson -- faced off wearing the captains’ armbands and it was Mane who opened the scoring inside four minutes for Al-Nassr when the Senegal forward tapped the ball in from a cut-back.
But Steven Gerrard’s Al-Ettifaq equalised early in the second half when goalkeeper Nawaf Alaqidi fumbled a cross and the ball fell kindly for Robin Quaison to score.
Al-Ettifaq took the lead six minutes later when Alaqidi parried a cross straight to the feet of Moussa Dembele, who scored from close range.
Mane thought he had equalised late on with an angled volley, only to see the offside flag go up. The referee added 14 minutes of injury time but Al-Ettifaq held on for the win.
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