Fans at King Saud University Stadium were treated to a magnificent display of attacking football as Al Hilal SFC advanced to the 2019 AFC Champions League final with a 6-5 aggregate win over Al Sadd SC, despite losing the second leg 4-2 on home soil on Tuesday.
With the advantage of a three-goal lead from the first leg and a huge crowd behind them, Al Hilal took the game to their opponents from the start, and within five minutes they had created their first big chance.
Bafetimbi Gomis shot wide on the half-volley inside the first 10 minutes, but it was Al Hilal’s second time of asking produced the opening goal of the night 12 minutes in.
Yasser Al Shahrani dribbled down the left and crossed low towards the far post. The ball was cleared by the Al Sadd defence but only as far as Salem Al Dawsari who controlled and fired home to make it 5-1 on aggregate.
Three minutes later, Al Sadd were given a lifeline after Akram Afif was brought down inside the box. Afif stepped up to take the resulting penalty himself and drilled it into the bottom right corner despite Abdullah Al Mayouf’s best efforts to save.
There were more goals to come soon after; Al Faraj was dispossessed near the halfway line and Nam Tae-hee advanced into the penalty box, supplied it wide for Afif who crossed back into the box for Al Haydos.
Al Sadd’s number 10 set up Nam with a cute flick and the Korean midfielder controlled and finished with his left past a helpless Al Mayouf.
Al Haydos turned from provider with Al Sadd’s very next attack. Al Shahrani failed to deal with a long ball, allowing Nam to advance on goal, his countryman Jang Hyn-soo made a tackle, but only managed to send the ball into the path of Al Haydos who drilled home Al Sadd’s third of the night in the 20th minute to the shock of the near-capacity home crowd at King Saud University Stadium.
The mood swiftly changed from stunned frustration to unanimous joy followed by a collective sigh of relief as Gomis got on the end of a Sebastian Giovinco diagonal pass, guiding the ball home on the half-volley to bring the aggregate score to 6-4 with just over an hour still to be played.
And if the first half was a festival of goals on both sides, the second was more of a display of half chances and ‘nearly’ moments.
As the final whistle approached, Al Sadd were able to snatch a fifth goal through Boualem Khoukhi. The defender rose highest to power home a header, putting everyone at the ground on their nerve for the remaining minutes of added time.
The stadium erupted in joy as Al Mayouf saved Nam’s last second free-kick, confirming Al Hilal’s place in the final for the third time after 2014 and 2017. They face the winners between Guangzhou Evergrande and Urawa Red Diamonds, with the first leg taking place in Riyadh on November 9.
Source: The AFC