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Football: Western Sydney join Al Hilal in AFC Champions League final

Western Sydney Wanderers beat 2013 finalists FC Seoul 2-0 in their AFC Champions League semi-final second leg to join Al Hilal in the final. Photos: WSG.

Western Sydney Wanderers (in red) beat 2013 finalists FC Seoul 2-0 in their AFC Champions League semi-final second leg in Sydney to join Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal in the final. Photos: WSG.

October 1, 2014: Western Sydney Wanderers will face Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal in the final of the AFC Champions League after the A-League side edged out 2013 finalists FC Seoul 2-0 on aggregate in their semi-final second leg on Wednesday.

 

Following a goalless draw in Seoul two weeks ago, Mateo Poljak and Shannon Cole scored in either half at Parramatta Stadium, as Western Sydney became only the second A-League side to reach the final, to the delight of coach Tony Popovic.

 

“It is just a great night for this club. We have had many special nights at this club, but this really tops it off. We don’t just want to be in the final, we want to win the final,” said Popovic, whose side have matched the achievements of 2008 finalists Adelaide United.

 

“This is the best; nothing beats this. This is the equivalent of the Champions League in Europe. It is down to just two teams now and we are one of them. Come October 25, we will better prepared, with a few A-League games under our belt.”

 

Poljak opened the scoring after just three minutes at Parramatta Stadium after the defensive midfielder expertly guided a first-time effort through a crowded penalty area. Cole doubled Western Sydney’s advantage just after the hour mark with a header from Labinot Haliti’s cross.

 

Western Sydney will entertain Al Hilal in the first leg of the final on October 25 before travelling to Riyadh for the decisive second leg on November 1.

 

Nassir Al Shamrani has scored 10 goals to propel Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal to the AFC Champions League final.

Nassir Al Shamrani has scored 10 goals to propel Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal to the AFC Champions League final.

Al Hilal, two-time winners of the former Asian Club Championship, secured a return to the continental final for the first time in 13 years by beating 2003 AFC Champions League winners Al Ain 4-2 on aggregate despite losing 2-1 in Tuesday’s second leg in the UAE.

 

Korean midfielder Lee Myung-joo’s 10th-minute header at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium had given the hosts hope of overturning a 3-0 deficit from the first leg. However, Nassir Al Shamrani netted his 10th goal of the campaign just after the hour mark, meaning Jires Kembo-Ekoko’s 78th-minute strike was not enough for Al Ain, who had striker Asamoah Gyan sent off.

 

Al Hilal coach Laurentiu Reghecampf said: “For us, reaching the final was the target for the club. We would like to play in the finals of all the competitions. We would like to win the league, the King’s Cup and the AFC Champions League.

 

“We played how we wanted to play to qualify for the final. I will look at this match later to prepare for the final. Al Ain played well and I think both teams deserved to qualify for the final, but we proved ourselves by playing this way to reach the final.”

 

For more information, visit: www.the-afc.com/en/tournaments/clubs/afc-champions-league

 

Source: WSG (www.wsgworld.com); Editing by SportAsia

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