DUBAI, Oct 20, (Agencies): Kwon Kyung-won scored in stoppage time to send Dubai’s Al Ahli through to a first Asian Champions League (ACL) final after a 3-2 win in the home leg of their last-four encounter against Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal on Tuesday. The South Korean’s deflected effort in the fourth minute of added time spared Ahli’s blushes after the 2014 UAE champions had thrown away a 2-0 halftime lead.
Ahli, who triumphed 4-3 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw in the first leg in Riyadh, will now face Japan’s Gamba Osaka or China’s Guangzhou Evergrande in November’s twolegged showpiece. Gamba Osaka coach Kenta Hasegawa will be looking for his team to stage another famous comeback when they take on Guangzhou Evergrande this week for a spot in the AFC Champions League final.
The Japanese champions have pulled back from the brink on three occasions during their run to this year’s last four, and in Wednesday’s semi-final second leg they must overturn a 2-1 deficit following defeat in Guangzhou three weeks ago. But the resilient attitude that helped Gamba claim a domestic treble last season, together with an all-important away goal from the first leg, should give them confidence before the match at Osaka Expo ‘70 Stadium.
“It’s a difficult opponent, but we have to try hard and work together to advance to the final,” said Hasegawa, who took charge of Gamba in 2013 after they were relegated to Japan’s second division. “This time we are playing at home and the most important thing is the motivation of the players. The key is how well we can do in terms of motivation and desire.