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Korea's Seongnam reach Champions League final

20 October 2010 18:09

SEONGNAM, South Korea (AFP) - South Korea's Seongnam Ilhwa qualified for the final of the AFC Champions League with a 1-0 win over Al Shabab of Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.

Forward Cho Dong-Geon struck home the only goal in the 30th minute, allowing his side to tighten up their defence for the remainder of the game.

The result made the tie 4-4 on aggregate, but the Koreans went through thanks to their superior number of away goals.

It was sweet revenge for the seven-time K-League champions, who led three times through spectacular volleys by Mauricio Molina and a Jo Jae-Cheol before conceding two late goals to lose 4-3 in Riyadh two weeks ago.

New Uruguayan signing Jose Manuel Olivera was the hero in the first leg with a brace, while club captain Abdoh Autef made a decisive impact as a 70th-minute substitute, helping set up the third and fourth goals.

Seongnam reached the semi-finals three years ago and the final in 2004, when they lost to Jeddah giants Al Ittihad over two legs. Ilhwa won the former Asian Club Championship in 1995, beating Al Nassr of Saudi Arabia.

In the final in Tokyo on November 13, they will play either Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia or Zobahan of Iran, who will play each other later with the Iranian league leaders winning the first leg 1-0 in Esfahan.

Al Hilal, the two-time Asian Club Championship winners, need to win at home after the first leg was decided by a second-half free-kick by Zobahan captain Ghasem Hadadifar.

Nawaf Al Abid, who hit the post in the first leg, is an injury doubt, but Al Hilal could welcome back both Brazilian playmaker Thiago Neves, who missed the first leg through injury, and central midfielder Mirel Radoi.

Radoi was away with Romania for their UEFA 2012 qualifier against France.

Zobahan, Al Hilal and Sabab are all competing in the semi-finals for the first time since the AFC Champions League was inaugurated in 2002.

Al Hilal, Saudi Arabia's most successful club with 12 league titles, won Asian Club Championship in 1991 and 2000 and also the Asian Cup Winners' Cup in 1997 and 2002.

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