AL-AIN, UAE: South Korea’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors won the Asian Champions League 3-2 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw with UAE’s Al Ain in the final’s second leg on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).
An atmosphere of gloom enveloped the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium as home fans wept after Al Ain squandered a penalty to let Jeonbuk off the hook and let a second Asian Champions League crown slip through their hands.
The Emiratis were surprise winners of the inaugural edition of the tournament in 2003, but on Saturday a host of missed chances combined with some stout defending by the Koreans put paid to their aspirations.
For Jeonbuk, who won the first leg 2-1 last week in Jeonju, it was also their second continental title after their 2006 title.
Han Kyo-won put Jeonbuk ahead in the 30th minute with a fine volley off a corner taken by Lee Jae-sung to put the South Koreans two goals up on aggregate.
But the hosts were back in the game just four minutes later when Lee Myung-joo cut down the deficit with a volley of his own that bounced off the turf to beat goalkeeper Soon-tae Kwoun.
Kwoun, who had brought off a fine save to thwart Al Ain star Omar Abdulrahman early in the game, then soon found himself facing Brazilian Douglas after Danilo Asprilla was brought down in the box in the dying minutes of the first half.
However, Douglas, one of the stars of Al Ain’s campaign this season, fired the ball well over the post much to the agony of their supporters.
To add insult to injury, Al Ain coach Zlatko Dalic was dispatched to the stands by referee Ryuji Sato soon after.
Al Ain managed to keep the Jeonbuk goal under pressure for much of the second half, but Ismail Ahmed headed over the bar, while goalkeeper Kwoun brought off saves from Asprilla and Douglas.
Nine minutes before time, Kwoun came to his side’s rescue once again, saving a shot from close range by Ibrahim Diaky as Jeonbuk held on for the title.