AFC Champions League 2017 semifinals 1st leg: Advantage Al Hilal & Urawa Red Diamonds

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The first legs of the semifinals in the AFC Champions League has seen Al Hilal & Urawa nose ahead of their competitors..

Asia's premier club competition is firmly at its business end and this week saw the first leg of the semifinals take place. After two riveting games, Japan's Urawa Red Diamonds and Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal have the advantage going into the second leg. But while Urawa's advantage is slender, Al Hilal's might well be decisive. 


SHANGHAI SIPG 1-1 URAWA RED DIAMONDS [Hulk 15' - Kashiwagi 28']


Shanghai SIPG v Urawa Red Diamonds

Urawa Red Diamonds scored a vital away goal in China to secure a 1-1 draw against Shanghai SIPG in the first leg of the AFC Champions League semifinals on Wednesday. The slender advantage could be extremely crucial in the second leg, given the away frailties of the Chinese team. 

The game began explosively, with Shanghai surging into the lead in the 15th minute through star man Hulk. The 31-year-old slammed a 25-yard long ranger to send the home crowd into raptures and maintain his incredible record of scoring in every game he’s played in this year’s competition. 

However, Yosuke Kashiwagi restored parity for the Japanese team and in the process gave them a vital away goal in the 28th minute. He expertly guided Shinzo Koroki's cutback past a hapless Shanghai goalkeeper. That rocked Shanghai SIPG, who mounted retaliatory attacks and Oscar forced a couple of saves from the goalkeeper. 

Shanghai had several chances post the break as well, but they could not get a winner on the night. 

 


AL HILAL 4-0 PERSEPOLIS [Kharbin 31', 54', 89' Shahrani 40']


Al Hilal vs Persepolis; Omar Kharbin

Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal rode Omar Kharbin's sensational hat-trick to notch a comprehensive 4-0 win over Iran's Persepolis to put them firmly in the driving seat for a spot in the final of the AFC Champions League. The result came despite Al Hilal playing most of the second half with just 10 men. 

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Al Hilal were on the front foot right from kickoff and had several chances to score before they eventually did in the 31st minute. Kharbin rose highest at the back post to head home Mohammed Al Burayk’s deep cross from the right. Yasser Al Shahrani made it 2-0 nine minutes later when he found the bottom corner from 18 yards out. 

However, Al Hilal's Abdullah Otayf picked up two quick yellow cards and was sent off in the 49th minute but Persepolis were unable to take advantage. Al Dawsari then played in Omar Kharbin in behind the Iranian team's defence and he duly scored his sixth goal of the tournament to make it 3-0. 

The misery was compounded for Persepolis late on when Kharbin notched his hat-trick with a fabulous low drive from 20 yards. 

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