Khribin Stars as Al Hilal play it cool to seal Berth in ACL Final
Muscat: Omar Khribin scored a brace as Al Hilal sealed their place in the 2017 AFC Champions League final with a 2-2 draw (6-2 on aggregate) against Persepolis at Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in the second leg of the semi-final.
Al Hilal dominated the early proceedings, but it was Persepolis who took the lead through Godwin Mensha’s 16th minute header after Vahid Amiri dispossessed Al Hilal’s Mohamed Al Burayk on the flank and crossed for the Nigerian to head home.
Al Hilal were soon back in control as Al Burayk made amends at the other end of the pitch.
The right-back surged forward before being brought down inside Persepolis’ box. Khribin calmly chipped the resulting penalty past goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand.
The Syrian striker’s fourth goal against the Iranians over the two legs brought Al Hilal level on the night at the half-hour mark.
Mensha added his second of the evening in the 62nd minute after he beat defender Abdullah Al Hafith to Ali Alipour’s backpass and fired into the bottom corner.
An extended spell of possession for Persepolis failed to produce a third goal as Al Hilal’s five-man defence stood tall to clear cross after cross.
Khribin ensured there would be no way back for Persepolis with 14 minutes on the clock.
Al Dawsari applied pressure on defender Shoja Khalilzadeh and succeeded in snatching the ball before squaring to Khribin who twisted and finished with his left to move level with Shanghai SIPG’s Hulk at the top of the 2017 AFC Champions League goal scoring charts.
Yet another Al Hilal counter attack seven minutes from time saw Kharbin, Carlos Eduardo and Al Dawsari combine to set the latter one-on-one with Beiranvand.
Dawsari beat the goalkeeper but the post came to Persepolis’ rescue.
The draw extends Al Hilal’s unbeaten run in the competition to 12 games as they await the winners of the second semi-final between Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds and China PR’s Shanghai SIPG on Wednesday.