The National - News
Al Hilal beat Pohang in final to seal record fourth Asian crown
Al Hilal have become champions of Asia for a record fourth time following their 2-0 victory against Pohang Steelers in the Asian Champions League final.
The Saudi Arabian side, contesting the showpiece for the third time in five years, triumphed at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, adding the trophy to titles won in 1991, 2000 and 2019.
Playing in front of a 50,000plus crowd in the Saudi capital, Hilal were handed the perfect start, when Nasser Al Dawsari put the home side ahead on 16 seconds.
The goal, a fantastic strike from range that found the top corner, was the fastest in the final’s history.
South Korea’s Steelers, who were also chasing a fourth Asian crown, were almost straight back into the match, only for Sin Jin-ho’s half-volley from the edge of the Hilal penalty area on 12 minutes to cannon off the crossbar. Lim Sang-hyub was then denied a certain equaliser when home goalkeeper Abdullah Al Mayouf blocked brilliantly the rebound on his line.
Hilal doubled their advantage not long after the hour. On 63 minutes, striker Bafetimbi Gomis rolled in Moussa Marega, with the powerful Malian doing well to hold off his marker before placing the ball beyond Pohang goalkeeper Lee Jun. The majority of the crowd went wild in celebration.
Hilal had a golden chance to make safe the result with 15 minutes remaining, but winger Matheus Pereira shot straight at Lee when well placed. Not long after, Gomis fired narrowly wide following a swift break.
In the end, it mattered little, as Hilal moved ahead of their South Korean rivals in the record books.
The Riyadh side – runners-up also in 1986, 1987, 2014 and 2017 – are now the most successesful side in Asian football’s premier club competition.