Urawa Red Diamonds claimed the Asian Champions League title for the third time as Andre Carrillo’s own goal earned the Japanese side a 1-0 victory over defending champions Al Hilal and a 2-1 aggregate win.
Carrillo’s error three minutes into the second half swung the tie on Saturday in Urawa’s favour despite Al Hilal dominating for lengthy periods before the Japanese side added the crown to the titles they won in 2007 and 2017.
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“Today, we are very happy that, after a few months working hard, thinking about this game, we are winning this trophy for the fantastic supporters at this huge club,” Urawa coach Maciej Skorza said.
“This is a big honour for me and it’s just amazing. It’s difficult to find a way to describe this win.
“I feel the spirit of the support and it’s something special. What I can say, today was not easy for us on the pitch. Very often we were struggling, but we were playing with one more player.”
Urawa held the upper hand going into the second leg at Saitama Stadium after Shinzo Koroki’s equaliser last Saturday had earned his team an away goal in the 1-1 draw in Riyadh.
The Saudis, missing the suspended Salem al-Dawsari and injured Salman Al Faraj, dominated the opening 45 minutes of the second leg, with Urawa’s Alexander Scholz forced to clear Odion Ighalo’s early effort off the line.
Goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa was called on to make saves to deny Brazilian winger Michael and Carrillo in a nervous opening for the hosts.
But it was Urawa who went closest to breaking the deadlock when Koroki’s flying volley crashed against the crossbar as the striker emerged unmarked in the penalty area to meet Hiroki Sakai’s inviting cross from the right.
Three minutes into the second half, the majority of the 53,574 fans were brought to their feet. Norwegian defender Marius Hoibraten headed a free-kick across the face of goal, Al Hilal goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf missed the ball as it swirled in the wind, and it bounced off Carrillo and into the net.
Urawa continued to create chances on the counterattack as Al Hilal pushed forward. Tomoaki Okubo fired over with just the goalkeeper Abdullah Al Muaiouf to beat and Atsuki Ito also went close.
Al Hilal, aiming for a record-extending fifth Asian crown, were denied the opportunity to take the game into extra time in the 90th minute when Nishikawa reacted to push away Igahlo’s goal-bound effort as Urawa held on.