This year's AFC Champions League semi-finals saw a pair of former winners make it through to set up a mouth-watering final clash.
In the process, inaugural champions Al Ain dispatched El Jaish 5-3 on aggregate to book return to their third final. 2006 winners Jeonbuk Motors similarly eased through against South Korean compatriots FC Seoul by an identical scoreline to storm into the final for a third time.
The two heavyweights will meet in November to battle it out for the continental title and a coveted place at this year's FIFA Club World Cup in Japan. Join FIFA.com as we review the semi-final showdowns.
Having defeated FC Seoul both home and way in this season's K League, Jeonbuk Motors translated their dominant club form on to the Asian scene, eliminating the same opponents with a 5-3 aggregate victory en route to the final. In a sense, Choi Kanghee's side set the tone in what had been anticipated as an evenly contested first leg.
The visiting Seoul pressed hard, but the hosts took the lead courtesy of Leonardo's spot-kick. Ricardo Lopes would double the lead before Leonardo gave Jeonbuk a three-goal first-half lead. Ju Sejong may have pulled one back for the visitors, but towering forward Kim Shinwook, who played a part in two of their three goals, was on hand to seal the emphatic win.
Entering the return with a three-goal deficit, Hwang Sunhong's Seoul had a mountain to climb at home. The capital side proved the brighter team of the opening half, with top-scorer Adriano opening proceedings with his thirteenth goal of the tournament, seeing him match the tournament’s all-time goal-scoring record. Having weathered the hosts' storm, however, Jeonbuk hit back and Lopes levelled on the hour-mark to restore their three-goal aggregate advantage, leaving Ko Kwangmin’s stoppage-time strike nothing more than just a consolation.
The other attraction
Al Ain booked their return to the AFC Champions League final in style, remaining undefeated as they dispatched El Jaish 5-3 on aggregate. But the inaugural winners owed thanks to their midfielder wizard Omar Abdulrahman, who stood out throughout to steer his side through.
The 25-year-old was in unstoppable form in the first leg, setting up Douglas for the opener before doubling the lead with a sublimely-taken free-kick. Uzbek winger Sadar Rashidov may have halved the deficit with a spot-kick after the restart for El Jaish, but Caio restored the two-goal lead for Al Ain with a stoppage-time effort. Abdulrahman was again the instigator, his pass into the area causing havoc for the Brazilian to capitalise on.
With them two goals up, Zlatko Dalic's side arrived at Doha knowing that even a slender defeat could see them progress into the final. Thus Sabri Lamouchi's hosts had no choice but to attack first as they sought to claw themselves back into contention. However, it was the visitors who took the lead on the night in the 57th minute when an again impressive Abdulrahman found the back of the net.
But Romarinho then struck a brace in a space of fourteen minutes to reduce the aggregate gap to just a goal and set up a nervous finish. With so much at stake, however, Mohamed Abdulrahman struck the equaliser in added time which rubber-stamped their qualification into the November climax.
Omar Abdulrahman has certainly established himself among Asia's most creative stars following his superb displays with both club and country. For Al Ain fans, though, the name of Abdulrahman is referred to as more than just one talented player, but three. Aside from Omar, his elder brothers Khaled and Mohamed are both plying their trade with the Emirati giants. And it was Mohamed who enjoyed the late spotlight in the second leg, scoring the equaliser to make sure there wouldn't be late scares as he settled any last-minute nerves.
3 - Both Al Ain and Jeonbuk Motors head into their third final, aiming to recapture the continental laurels having won the title once each. Regardless of the results of the two-legged ultimate game, the winners will become the third Asian team to get their hands on the trophy for a second time since the Champions League’s inception in 2003, joining two-time winners Al Ittihad and Guangzhou Evergrande.
What they said
"Qualifying for the final is a big achievement for us; it is the fruit of the great effort that we have put in during the entire year. The team was determined to reach the final and despite facing several difficulties we have made it through. Now hopefully we will make it over the last hurdle."
Al Ain head coach Zlatko Dalic
Semi-final second leg results
18 & 19 October
El Jaish 2-2 Al Ain (3-5 on aggregate)
FC Seoul 2-1 Jeonbuk Motors (3-5 on aggregate)
— AFC Champions League (@TheAFCCL) October 19, 2016