Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal made the Asian Champions League quarter-finals after goals from Odion Ighalo, Jang Hyun-soo and Luciano Vietto saw the champions hand Shabab Al Ahli of the United Arab Emirates a 3-1 defeat at Al Janoub Stadium in Doha on Monday.
Iranians Foolad also reached the continental championship’s last eight as Javad Nekounam’s team beat Saudi Arabia’s Al Faisaly 1-0 with a goal by Sasan Ansari at Al Thumama Stadium to join Al Shabab and Al Duhail in Tuesday’s last-eight draw.
The four remaining clubs in the western half of the competition will face off to decide who meets Urawa Red Diamonds in the two-legged final in April and May after the Japanese side secured the east Asian berth in the decider last year.
Former Manchester United striker Ighalo sent Al Hilal on the way to victory with a 17th minute opener before second half goals from Jang and Vietto sealed the win for Ramon Diaz’s side.
Ighalo struck from distance after Moussa Marega charged forward to set up the Nigerian, who stepped inside Mohammed Marzooq and unleashed a low left-foot shot from 20 metres that goalkeeper Majed Nasser could not keep out.
Shabab Al Ahli’s Omar Khribin almost levelled with a quarter of the game remaining, the Syrian’s free kick forcing Abdullah Al Mayouf to dive full length to push the ball around the post.
Al Hilal, however, added a second with 18 minutes remaining when defender Jang saw his initial header from Vietto’s free kick palmed onto the crossbar by Nasser, only for the South Korean to convert the rebound from close range.
Vietto added a third seven minutes later after Marega’s cross was flicked towards goal by Salem Al Dawsari and the Argentinian netted with his thigh, leaving Khribin’s 86th minute strike as little more than a consolation.
In the day’s earlier game, Ansari scored the only goal as Foolad saw off Al Faisaly, capitalising on a poor attempt by Salem Al Qumayzi to head back to goalkeeper Ahmed Al Kasser to net on the turn in the 64th minute.
The quarter-finals will be played on Thursday while the semi-final will take place on Sunday, with the winners meeting Urawa in the final over two legs on April 29 and May 6.
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