November 24 – Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal have been crowned Asian champions after the fastest goal ever scored in the final of the continent’s Champions League set the club on the road to a 2-0 victory against South Korea’s Pohang Steelers and a record-breaking fourth title.
At a packed King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, the Saudis needed just 16 seconds to ignite the final with a superb strike from Nasser Al-Dawsari, who exploited a loose ball inside the Korean half. His swerving attempt was too much for goalkeeper Gwang-Joon Lee.
With three continental titles to their name, the Koreans had enough experience of playing in finals but they always looked second best to Al Hilal. In the second half, Moussa Marega doubled Al Hilal’s lead after the industrious Bafetimbi Gomis slipped through a neat pass to hand the Saudis and coach Leonardo Jardim a deserved win.
“We are the best team in Asia and we have worked hard to get here,” said Al Hilal captain Salman Al-Faraj. “It was a tough game against a good team. We have been together a long time and we are delighted to win the title again after winning it in 2019.”
“Al Hilal SFC have a proven track record in the AFC Champions League and this latest achievement is a testament to everyone, from generations past and present, working tirelessly behind the scenes to carry on its proud tradition, which I have no doubts will serve as an inspiration to Asia’s players, teams and clubs,” added Asian Football Confederation president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino was also in attendance. He had met the president of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) Yasser Al Misehal earlier in the day.
In a statement, he said: “We discussed the depth and development of relations between the SAFF and other international federations, and reflected on Saudi Arabia’s growing role in staging international and continental events as well as the continued development of football throughout the Kingdom – particularly the commencement, just this week, of the first-ever edition of the Saudi Women’s Football League.”
Al Hilal will represent Asia at the 2021 Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates. The field also includes Chelsea (Europe), Al Ahly (Africa), Monterrey (CONCACAF), Auckland City (Oceania) and hosts Al Jazira. On Saturday, Palmeiras and Flamengo will compete for South America’s ticket in the final of the Copa Libertadores in Montevideo.
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