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Al-Hilal wins 28th straight game to set record. Saudi team reaches Asian Champions League SF

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabian team Al-Hilal set a world record for a top-tier team by winning its 28th straight game with a 2-0 victory over Al-Ittihad to reach the Asian Champions League semifinals on Tuesday.

Al-Hilal had also won the quarterfinals first leg by the same score to advance 4-0 on aggregate over its domestic rival.

The 18-time Saudi champion broke the previous recognized record of 27 straight wins set by The New Saints in the 2016-17 season. The Welsh team took the mark from the great Ajax team inspired by Johan Cruyff in 1971-72.

"Everyone at Al Hilal is delighted to achieve world football history by winning 28 consecutive matches,” Al-Hilal coach Jorge Jesus said. “This is truly an incredible achievement and I want to thank everyone at the club for their part in this momentous winning record.”

Al Hilal’s dominating season follows the club spending about 350 million euros ($380 million) on player transfers after being effectively nationalized by the Saudi sovereign wealth operation, the Public Investment Fund. It is controlled by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The last time the team did not win was on Sept. 21 in a 1-1 draw against league rival Damac.

Al-Hilal, already champion of Asia four times, is 12 points clear atop the Saudi Pro League.

“As I have said throughout this period, however, records do not matter as much as trophies,” Jesus said. “It is up to everyone at Al-Hilal to ensure that we close out the season as Roshn Saudi League champions and meet our targets in the cup competitions. Only then can we truly celebrate.”

Second-half goals from Yasser Al-Shahrani and Brazilian winger Malcom sealed the win at Al-Ittihad, which had striker Abderrazak Hamdallah sent off late in the game.

Al-Hilal will face Al-Ain of the United Arab Emirates in the semifinals in April. Al-Ain eliminated Al-Nassr on Monday, beating Cristiano Ronaldo's team in a penalty shootout.

In the eastern zone, Ulsan HD moved into the last four with a 1-0 second-leg win over Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in this all-South Korean matchup.

After the first leg ended 1-1, Seol Young-woo scored to give Ulsan, champion in 2012 and 2020, a 2-1 aggregate victory.

Ulsan will meet either Yokohama F.Marinos of Japan or China’s Shandong Taishan in the semifinals.

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer