UAE's Al Ain knock out Al Hilal to reach Asian Champions League final

Al Ain, which knocked out Cristiano Ronaldo's Al Nassr in the quarterfinals, reached the final for the first time since 2016

By AFP

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Al Ain players celebrate after reaching the final. — AFP
Al Ain players celebrate after reaching the final. — AFP

Published: Wed 24 Apr 2024, 1:56 AM

Al Ain reached the Asian Champions League final for the first time since 2016 with a 5-4 aggregate victory over four-time winners Al Hilal, despite a 2-1 second-leg defeat in Riyadh on Tuesday.

Trailing 4-2 after their record 34-match winning run was ended in last week's first leg, Al Hilal quickly cut the deficit through Ruben Neves' fourth-minute penalty.


Brazilian Erik drew Al Ain level on the night, though, to leave runaway Saudi Pro League leaders Al Hilal with a mountain to climb in the second half.

But Salem Al Dawsari scored a rebound less than six minutes after the restart to give the hosts renewed hope.


Brazilian Michael and former Lazio star Sergei Milinkovic-Savic both went close as Al Hilal piled on the pressure, the latter seeing his effort cleared off the line.

Al Ain goalkeeper Khalid Eisa enjoyed a fine evening, making six saves, including from Michael and Mohamed Kanno late on.

Al Ain, which knocked out Cristiano Ronaldo's Al Nassr in the quarterfinals, clung on desperately through nine minutes of added time, with Eisa keeping out a Michael header in the 98th minute.

Hernan Crespo's Al Ain will face either Yokohama F-Marinos or Koreans Ulsan Hyundai in the final in May as they bid for a second triumph in the competition and first since 2003.


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