Al Ain knock out Al Hilal to reach Asian Champions League final

Al Hilal win second leg but the Emirati visitors clinch semi-finals with a 5-4 aggregate

AFP April 24, 2024


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.

The Emirati visitors 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.

Japanese club Yokohama trail 1-0 on aggregate heading into their semi-final second leg on Wednesday.


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