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Al Hilal win thriller to reach Champions League semis

22 September 2010 18:09

DUBAI (AFP) - Al Hilal became the second Saudi club to reach this season's AFC Champions League semi-finals when they scored twice in the last two minutes of extra-time to defeat Qatar's Al Gharafa 5-4 on aggregate on Wednesday.

Trailing 3-0 from the first leg, the Qataris stormed back onto level terms inside the first 40 minutes through 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 semi-finals despite a 1-0 home defeat to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors of South Korea.

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

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

Seongnam, who have 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 defence 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 Zobahan 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 Zobahan was the dismissal of Mehdi Rajabzadeh three minutes from time, meaning he will miss the semi-final against Al Hilal.

In the second semi-final, Seongnam Ilhwa will face Al Shabab.

The final of Asia's top club competition is played at Tokyo's National Stadium on November 13, with the winner qualifying for the lucrative FIFA Club World Cup.

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