Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal advanced to the semi-finals of the AFC Champions League for the second consecutive season after thrashing Qatari side Lekhwiya 6-3 on aggregate.
Hilal went into the match as favourites after a heavy 4-1 win at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyahd last month.
And though they only managed a 2-2 draw in the second leg at the Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium in Doha, the result was more than enough to see them advance to the semi-finals.
The Saudis threatened to increase their lead early on in Tuesday’s second leg when Ailton volleyed just over the bar, but it would be a different Brazilian who made good on the early promise.
With 21 minutes on the clock, Carlos Eduardo stroked the ball past Lekhwiya goalkeeper Amine Lecomte from inside the box to hand his side a seemingly unassailable lead.
Hilal eased off after the goal and allowed Lekhwiya to play their way back into the game, and Ismail Mohammed made the visitors pay when he scored in the final minute of the first half.
Lekhwiya needed three more goals to win the match, but were unable to break down their opponents until the 71st minute when Chico Flores rose highest at a corner to hand his side a 2-1 lead.
The host threw everything forward in search of two more goals, but were rebuffed time and time again by the Hilal’s determined defence.
While most sides would have been happy to accept the defeat and advance via their superior aggregate score, Hilal pushed forward in the dying minutes and Faisal Darwish scored the equaliser just three minutes from time to save a draw for the Saudis.
Hilal will face either Al Ahli of the United Arab Emirates or Naft Tehran from Iran in the semi-finals later this month.