Al-Ahli to face Ulsan Hyundai in ACL final

AP, DUBAI, United Arab Emirates

Fri, Nov 02, 2012 - Page 19

Saudi Arabian club Al-Ahli is scheduled to face Ulsan Hyundai of South Korea in the Asian Champions League (ACL) final after a 2-0 win against cross-town rival Al-Ittihad on Wednesday.

Al-Ahli won 2-1 on aggregate after a headed goal from Motaz al-Musa in the 44th minute and a calm finish by Brazilian striker Victor Simoes de Oliveira in the 83rd.

Down 1-0 after the first leg, Al-Ahli pressed from the start. Al-Musa just missed with headers in the 32nd and 43rd before scoring.

With the sides level on aggregate, Victor Simoes de Oliveira received a long-range pass in the area and slotted the ball past goalkeeper Mabrouk Zayed.

The goal sent the Al-Alhi faithful into a frenzy and means the Jeddah club will take part in its first ACL final in 26 years. This is its fifth appearance in the competition.

Ulsan, which won 3-1 in the first leg against Bunyodkor of Uzbekistan, eased into the final with a 2-0 victory on Wednesday.

When Kim Shin-wook broke the deadlock at Ulsan World Cup Stadium, shooting home from close range eight minutes into the second half, Ulsan’s first appearance in the final was never in doubt.

Lee Keun-ho added a second with 15 minutes remaining.

“I am satisfied with the result,” Ulsan coach Kim Ho-gon said. “After winning the first leg we wanted no surprises in the second and we did what we set out to do.”

“The players were not complacent and demonstrated their desire to get to the final. It is not easy traveling around Asia and playing in the K-League at the same time. I want to thank my players for their efforts. Now it is time to think about the final,” he added.

Ulsan will host the final on Nov. 10 and has the chance to record Korea’s 10th Asian championship win.

Bunyodkor, also searching to progress past the semi-finals for the first time, made much of the early running, testing the goalkeeper frequently.

As the half progressed, Ulsan started to take control and went close to opening the scoring, but not until it fell to Kim after 54 minutes.

After Rafinha’s initial shot was saved by Ignatiy Nesterov, Kim shot home the rebound.

Ulsan sealed the win when Lee, from the edge of the area, curled a half-volley into the far corner of the net.

Bunyodkor coach Mirdjalal Kasimov had no complaints.

“We met a strong team,” he said. “We had some chances early in the game, but didn’t take them. Ulsan had some good chances and they scored. It was a good game for the fans and I hope that Ulsan get a good result in the final.”