November 25 – Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal have claimed the final spot at next month’s Club World Cup after winning the AFC Champions League on Sunday – third time lucky after the heartbreak of defeat in the 2014 and 2017 finals.
The club finally ended their continental trophy drought as they secured a 2-0 away win over Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds to complete a 3-0 aggregate success.
Al Hilal boss Razvan Lucescu said his side’s success – their first in the continent’s premier club competition since 2000 when Al Hilal won the now defunct Asian Club Championship — was built on the belief they gained from the first leg.
“The first game gave us huge confidence and at the same time our determination, the will from each player was put in with all these strong feelings to win this title after such a long period,” he said after al Hilal gained revenge for their defeat in the final against the same opponent two years ago. “I can’t describe the last 15 minutes.”
It was the first time in eight years that a side from the west of Asia has lifted the trophy, as Al-Hilal finally broke East Asia’s dominance. They will now enter the Club World Cup in Qatar in the second round and face Espérance Sportive de Tunis on December 14. The winners of that match will play Flamengo in the semi-finals after the Brazilians thrillingly won the Copa Libertadores at the weekend.
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