Brazilian Rafael Silva yesterday smashed a late winner as Japan’s Urawa Reds beat 10-man al-Hilal of Saudi Arabia 1-0 to win the Asian Champions League for the second time.
The forward, who also scored in last weekend’s 1-1 first-leg draw in Riyadh, blasted a superb winner two minutes from regulation for Urawa, who were last crowned continental champions in 2007.
Japanese teams have struggled in Asia’s premier club since Gamba Osaka lifted the trophy in 2008, and the Reds were under the cosh for much of the return game in Saitama.
However, the visitors, chasing their first Asian title since 2000, lacked end product and their cause was not helped by the dismissal of midfielder Salem al-Dawsari in the 78th minute.
Al-Dawsari fizzed a first-half shot just over with arguably al-Hilal’s best chance of the match before Syria striker Omar Kharbin curled a free kick just wide before the break.
At the other end, Reds striker Shinzo Koroki had a header brilliantly saved before Silva nearly broke the net with his late rocket to dash Saudi hopes.
Urawa’s victory qualifies them for next month’s Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
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