By ESPNSTAR.com staff
Arbil coach Nizar Mahrous had emphasized on the importance of a strong defence prior to their semi-final clash with Chonburi. However, his charges did not appear to heed their manager's warning, allowing the Thai side to register their first opportunity as early as the eight minute when French midfielder Geoffrey Doumeng carved out an opening for himself from the left flank, only to see his powerful shot go just wide.
Thankfully for Mahrous, Arbil striker Amjed Radhi had no problems finishing his team's first chance, as he flicked the Iraqi side into the lead on the 24th minute. Going a goal behind did not dampen Chonburi's enthusiasm, as they went on the attack every time they obtained possession. Influential playmaker Therdask Chaiman came the closest to equalizing for his side, only to see his effort cannon off the cross-bar at the half-hour mark.
Withaya Laohakul's side fought back to level the game moments after the start of the second period when Pipob On-Mo pounced after shrugging off the attention of Arbil defender Ivan Bukenya. The away fans were not happy for long though, as an unmarked Radhi managed to get on the end of a Nadim Sabag knock-down to restore the Iraqi club's lead.
It was one-way traffic after Radhi's second strike, with Chonburi's misery compounded by an own goal from defender Suttinun Phukhom before Saleh Sadeer fired home Arbil's fourth and final goal of the night.
After hammering Kuwait SC 5-1 in the group stages earlier, Al Ettifaq were expected to cruise past the Kuwaiti Premier League side in the first leg of their semi-final game. Instead, it was Ion Marin's team who came out on top.
Determined to avenge their previous defeat, Kuwait went on the offensive and opened the scoring in the seventh minute when a Walied Ali cross took a lucky deflection to find Issam Jemaa free in the box. The Tunisian doubled his tally just four minutes later, seizing possession off Al Ettifaq's Ahmad Mubarak before beating goalkeeper Abdullah Al Saleh at his near post.
The sheer pace of Yousef Al Salem gave Al Ettifaq a lifeline in the 24th minute when he sprinted past Kuwait captain Husain Hakim and diverted his shot past Musab Al Kandari. The strike was followed by two magnificent opportunities for Hamad Al Hamad and Al Salem to restore parity for Al Ettifaq, but the next goal in the game belonged once more to Kuwait when Chadi Hammami fired home a 58th minute penalty.
Although Ali was sent off on the hour mark after receiving a second yellow card, 10-men Kuwait still managed to bag a fourth goal thanks to an extraordinary run and finish from Naseer Al Qahtani.
AFC Cup Semi-Final First Leg Results
Arbil 4-1 Chonburi
Kuwait SC 4-1 Al Ettifaq