Second Saudi club heading to AFC semis

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Second Saudi club heading to AFC semis

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Al Hilal became the second Saudi club to reach this season’s AFC Champions League semifinals .

They scored twice in the last two minutes of extra time to defeat Qatar’s Al Gharafa 5-4 on Wednesday.

Trailing 3-0 from the first leg, the Qataris stormed back onto level terms inside the first 40 minutes.

That was through the efforts of Mirghani Al Zain, Iraqi star Younus Mahmood and Othman El Assas.

Mahmood then made it 4-0 on the night and 4-3 on aggregate when he slotted home a pass from Fahid Al Shammari.

But with time ticking away, Al Hilal saved themselves when Yasser Al Qahtani struck before Eysa Al Mahyani made sure of the victory in the last seconds.

Al Shabab clinched a place in the semifinals despite a 1-0 home defeat to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.

Kim Jee-wong’s long-range strike on 23 minutes wasn’t enough to overturn the Saudis’ 2-0 first-leg win last week.

Korea’s most successful club, Seongnam Ilhwa, held their nerve to make the semifinals, but title-holders Pohang Steelers were sent packing.

Seongnam, which has won seven K-League crowns, took a healthy 4-1 first-leg lead into their clash with fellow Koreans Suwon Bluewings.

But a first-half goal from winger Yeom Ki-hun and a second-half strike from the impressive Lee Sang-ho tested their mettle at the Suwon World Cup Stadium.

In the end, Seongnam’s defense held up under the pressure and they went through 4-3 on aggregate.

The Steelers went into their match chasing a 2-1 deficit from the first leg against Iran Pro League leaders Zob Ahan and looked like they might overturn it when Kim Jae-sung pounced in the 10th minute to put them level on aggregate.

With the deadlock unbroken late in the second-half, it seemed destined for extra-time until Mohamad Reza Khalatbari stunned the hosts in the 80th minute to put his team into the last four.

The only sour point for Zob Ahan was the dismissal of Mehdi Rajabzadeh three minutes from time, meaning he will miss the semifinal against Al Hilal.

In the second semifinal, Seongnam Ilhwa will face Al Shabab.

The final of Asia’s top club competition will be played at Tokyo’s National Stadium on Nov. 13, with the winner qualifying for the lucrative FIFA Club World Cup.

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