Japanese outfit Gamba Osaka and Australia's Adelaide United both failed to progress beyond the group stage in their only previous appearance on the continental stage last year. Yet Gamba toppled defending champions Urawa Reds and Adelaide overcame Bunyodkor 3-1 on aggregate to set up the tournament finale.
Urawa Reds' hopes of a second successive crown were shattered as they went down 3-1 at home to Gamba, a result which ensured that the visitors advanced 4-2 on aggregate. In the other game, the 3-0 loss from the last game proved too big a deficit to overcome for hosts Bunyodkor, who bowed out despite defeating Adelaide 1-0.
The first leg of the final will be played on 5 November, with Gamba Osaka playing host to Adelaide.
AFC Champions League semifinals, second leg results:
Wednesday 22 October
Game of the day
Urawa Reds 1-3 Gamba Osaka
With Adelaide's meeting with Bunyodkor looking a foregone conclusion after the Australians' 3-0 first-leg win, most eyes were on the all-Japanese affair between Gamba Osaka and Urawa Reds. And visiting coach Akira Nishino had his influential midfielder Yasuhito Endo to thank for their success; the Japanese international had a hand in all three of Gamba's goals, setting up the first two before scoring his own to cap a famous win.
Spurred on by their vociferous home supporters, the home side had the bulk of possession throughout the opening half, and took the lead nine minutes from the break courtesy of Naohiro Takahara, who fired a low shot past Gamba keeper Yosuke Fujigaya. Just as everything seemed to be going to plan for the champions, however, the tide turned Gamba's way six minutes into the second half, when Endo's venomous corner from the right was met by captain Satoshi Yamaguchi's head, and the scores were level. The decisive second goal came on 66 minutes as another well-taken corner by Endo found Tomokazu Myojin, who gave keeper Norihiro Yamagishi no chance. Only four minutes later, the impressive Endo was on target himself to round off a memorable night.
The other game
Bunyodkor 1-0 Adelaide United
Going into the home game with a 3-0 deficit from the previous leg, coach Zico's Bunyodkor were left with few options but to throw everything forward. However, Adelaide were true to their reputation as one of the best-organized teams in the competition, as they gave their desperate hosts few chances throughout. Reds goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic, who was still affected by a recent groin injury, was rarely troubled seriously until substitute Bahodir Pardaev raced into the area to score the only goal with twelve minutes to go.
The numbers game
4 - The number of goals Adelaide United have conceded in all ten of their games so far, the best defensive record in this year's AFC Champions League competition.
What they said
"This is as big as the national team getting to the World Cup. It is the biggest competition in club football in Asia, and it is a magnificent achievement to get to the final. We have done it in the hardest possible way, in terms of the resources of the other clubs, so for us to get this far is unbelievable." Aurelio Vidmar, head coach of Adelaide United.