Lekhwiya exit Asian Champions League
DOHA: Al Hilal advanced to the semi-finals of the AFC Champions League for the second season in a row after Georgios Donis’ side were held to a 2-2 draw by Qatar’s Lekhwiya in the second leg of their quarter-final encounter at the Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium on Tuesday.
The result meant Al Hilal secured a 6-3 aggregate win over the Qatar Stars League champions and will meet either Al Ahli of the United Arab Emirates or Naft Tehran from Iran in the semi-finals later this month.
Carlos Eduardo increased Al Hilal’s advantage in the 25th minute but goals from Ismail Mohammed and Chico Flores gave Lekhwiya a glimmer of hope before the Saudi Arabian side closed out the game through Digao three minutes from time.
Leading 4-1 from the first leg in Riyadh, Al Hilal went into the game under little pressure and their composure showed in the opening exchanges as they controlled the game.
Ailton volleyed over the bar with 13 minutes on the clock while, three minutes later, Saud Kariri headed just over the target.
Nine minutes later, the Saudi side took the lead. Carlos Eduardo found himself with time and space in the middle of the area and the Brazilian made no mistake, slotting the ball past Amine Lecomte with a composed finish into the corner.
With a four-goal cushion, Al Hilal eased off and Lekhwiya sought to pull themselves back into the game.
Just after the half-hour mark, Youssef Msakni should have levelled for the home side only for his weak header to drop into the arms of Khalid Sharahili. Six minutes later Msakni tried his luck from long range, and this time the effort was just wide of the target.
With time running out in the half, however, Lekhwiya finally found their way onto the score sheet when Mohamed struck with the final kick of the half, beating Sharahili with a fine finish from just inside the area.
The goal mean Lekhwiya needed three unanswered goals in the final 45 minutes to take the game into extra time and, with 19 minutes to go, Chico Flores rose highest to head Nam Tae-hee’s corner into the far corner to give Lekhwiya a glimmer of hope.
But with three minutes remaining, Digaonetted the equaliser on the night for Al Hilal from inside the penalty area to secure the Saudi side’s progress to the last four.