Jeonbuk to face Al Sadd in ACL final

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Jeonbuk to face Al Sadd in ACL final

JEONJU, North Jeolla - Korea’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors booked their place in the Asian Champions League final with a 2-1 victory on Wednesday over Al Ittihad of Saudi Arabia.

The victory at Jeonju World Cup Stadium gave Jeonbuk a 5-3 aggregate win in the two-legged semifinal, after they prevailed 3-2 in a hard-fought match in Jeddah last week.

Fellow K-League team Suwon Samsung Bluewings were unable to make it an all-Korean final.

Although they beat Al Sadd 1-0 away, they went out 2-1 on aggregate after the Qatari side’s controversial 2-0 win in the first leg. Al Sadd are the first team from Qatar to reach the final.

Jeonbuk’s star was Brazilian forward Eninho, who scored two first-half goals for the recently anointed K-League champions.

Manager Choi Kang-hee, who led the club to the continental crown five years ago, said he was glad to have put in the hard work in Saudi Arabia.

“The lead we took from the first leg gave us some breathing room at home but we knew well that Al Ittihad are a very good team,” he said. “We expected them to come at us strongly and we were ready for that.”

Both sides ended the match a man down, with the Saudi club playing most of the game with 10 men.

Striker Naif Hazazi, who scored two goals in the first leg, was sent off in only the 12th minute after an altercation with Cho Sung-hwan, while the home side’s substitute Krunoslav Lovrek picked up a second yellow in the closing stages.

Things looked bright for an all-Korean final when Oh Jang-eun opened the scoring in Qatar with a brilliant sixth-minute strike.

However, Al Sadd battened down the hatches as they were missing suspended strikers Abdulkader Keita and Mamadou Niang. Their defense held firm, only allowing the visitors one clear chance, but Mato Neretijak failed to make the most of it in the second-half.

Suwon coach Yoon Sung-hyo said he had been proud of his side’s gutsy effort.

“We tried to win the game. We did our best. It was not easy but we tried,” he said.

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