RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal have made history on becoming the first club to win the Asian Champions League four times.
In the final at the King Fahd International stadium in Riyadh, Al Hilal defeated South Korea’s triple AFC champions Pohang Steelers 2-0.
Al-Hilal, coached by Portugal’s ex-Monaco boss Leonardo Jardim, opened the scoring after only 16 seconds through left-back Nasser Al-Dawsari.
The second half saw Mali’s Moussa Marega secured victory in the 63rd minute.
Asian confederation president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said: “Al Hilal SFC have a proven track record in the AFC Champions League and this latest achievement is a testament to everyone, from generations past and present, working tirelessly behind the scenes to carry on its proud tradition, which I have no doubts will serve as an inspiration to Asia’s players, teams and clubs.”
A capacity crowd of of 50,171 attended after the AFC approved full spectator attendance, in line with strict health and safety protocols.
Shaikh Salman added: “The AFC, together with its Member Associations and clubs, has been steadfast in our commitment to show the world that Asian football was ready to return in 2021 and the incredible scenes at the Final exemplified once again the much-admired unity and solidarity of the Asian football family.
“We must also pay tribute to Asia’s passionate fans who continue to engage in record numbers year after year, and of course, to our medical professionals as well as our match officials, our media, commercial and broadcast partners and all our stakeholders for their outstanding teamwork and belief in the AFC’s ambitions to stage world-class competitions for our Member Associations.”
Al Hilal SFC’s Salem Al Dawsari was named the AFC Champions League 2021 MVP after a sterling campaign which saw his club also earning the Fair Play Award while Al Duhail’s Michael Olunga was crowned the top scorer, finishing with a tournament-best of nine goals.
Al-Hilal, previous winners in 1991, 2000 and 2019 will now compete in the 2021 Club World Cup to be held next January in the United Arab Emirates.
Also qualified are Chelsea (Europe), Al Ahly (Africa), Monterrey (CONCACAF), Auckland City (Oceania) and host choice Emirates Al Jazira.
The South American Copa Libertadores will be decided by Saturday’s final in Montevideo between Brazil’s Palmeiras and Flamengo.