Jeonbuk, Al Sadd book final showdown

Jeonbuk Motors reached the 2011 AFC Champions League final as a 2-1 win against ten-man Al Ittihad at Jeonju World Cup Stadium gave them a 5-3 aggregate success.

Leading 3-2 from the first leg in Saudi Arabia, two goals from Eninho in the first half put the Korea Republic team further in control following the early dismissal of Al Ittihad striker Naif Hazazi.

"We got what we wanted," said Motors coach Choi Kang-Hee, the man who led Jeonbuk to the continental crown five years ago. "We are at home for the final and that is an advantage for us."

Eninho's goals were a big help but we still had work to do and were able to get the result we needed.
Choi Kang-Hee, Jeonbuk Motors coach

Choi pointed to the performance and result in Jeddah a week earlier as key. "The lead we took from the first leg gave us some breathing space at home but we knew well that Al Ittihad are a very good team.

"We expected them to come at us strongly and we were ready for that. Eninho's goals were a big help but we still had work to do and were able to get the result we needed."

Al Ittihad coach Dimitri Davidovic admitted that it was always going to be tough for his team. "We didn't get the result we wanted at home so we were hoping for a miracle in the second leg," said the Belgian. “We want to congratulate Jeonbuk. We still have most of the season to focus on."

Al Ittihad, Champions League winners in 2004 and 2005, were in trouble after 11 minutes. Hazazi scored both goals for his team in the first leg but after tangling with Cho Sung-Hwan he appeared to headbutt the Jeonbuk captain, and the referee had no hesitation in showing a red card.

Motors increase advantage
Jeonbuk made their advantage count after 22 minutes when Jung Sung-Hoon headed the ball forward from near the centre circle and Eninho wriggled past Osama Al Harbi, holding off the Saudi defender to advance into the area and fire a low shot past Mabrouk Zaid.

The home side pushed forward and were almost caught just before the half-hour mark. Jorge Paolo was found in space on the right side and the Portuguese player's low cross evaded the Jeonbuk defence to find Mohammed Noor, who looked certain to score from close range, only for Kim Min-Sik to get across to make a fine save.

Jeonbuk almost extended their lead in spectacular fashion. A corner from Eninho was headed clear only as far as Jung Hoon just outside the penalty area, and the midfielder's fierce looping volley cannoned back off the post. Jung Sung-Hoon sent the rebound towards goal but his shot was deflected by a desperate diving block.

Eninho doubles lead
Eninho then produced a moment of magic nine minutes before the break. The Brazilian curled his left-sided corner directly into the roof of the visitors' net despite the attempts of Zaid and Mishal Al Saeed at the near post.

Despite the odds being against them, the visitors were still fighting in the second half. Paolo exchanged passes with Noor on the edge of the penalty area but his shot lacked the required precision.

Jeonbuk were happy to bide their time and exploit the gaps in the Saudi backline. Midway through the half Jung Hoon shot over when in a one-on-one situation with Zaid and two team-mates screaming for the ball.

Just as the game looked over, Wendel swept home from close range with 17 minutes remaining to ensure a few nerves, but Jeonbuk held on for the win despite seeing substitute Krunoslav Lovrek dismissed for a second bookable offence late in the game.

Al Saad through despite defeat
Jeonbuk will face Al Saad in the final, after the Qatari side sealed a 2-1 aggregate success despite a 1-0 loss to Suwon Bluewings in their semi-final second-leg at Sheik Bin Jassim Stadium. 

Things had looked bright for an all-Korean final when Oh Jang-eun opened the scoring in Qatar with a brilliant sixth-minute strike. However, Al Sadd, who were missing suspended strikers Abdulkader Keita and Mamadou Niang, made sure their defence held firm to clinch their place in the finals.

Al Sadd's Uruguayan coach Jorge Fossati was delighted with his players and said he would focus on the final once he had celebrated this historic moment. "I faced them (Jeonbuk) with Al Shabab last season," said Fossati. "Today I want to enjoy this moment. Tomorrow we will start working for the final. We will try to bring the title to Qatar."

Suwon coach Yoon Sung-hyo said he too had been proud of his side's gutsy effort. "We tried to win the game. We did our best. It was not easy but we tried," he said. "We tried attacking but because of the time difference between Qatar and Korea, the players were jet-lagged. That's why you saw we were exhausted, especially in the second-half."