2017 AFC Champions League Winner: Urawa Red Diamonds
The 2017 AFC Champions League is the 36th edition of Asia’s premier club football tournament organized by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), and the 15th under the current AFC Champions League title.
The final was contested in two-legged home-and-away format between Saudi Arabian team Al-Hilal and Japanese team Urawa Red Diamonds. The first leg was hosted by Al-Hilal at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh on 18 November 2017, while the second leg was hosted by Urawa Red Diamonds at the Saitama Stadium 2002 in Saitama on 25 November 2017. The winner earned the right to represent the AFC at the 2017 FIFA Club World Cup, entering at the quarter-finals stage.
This was the fourth time that an Asian club final was played in the King Fahd International Stadium, with the previous finals being 1995, 2000, and 2014 (second leg). This was the second time that an Asian club final was played in the Saitama Stadium 2002, with the previous final being 2007 (second leg).
Urawa Red Diamonds took the lead in the seventh minute after Rafael Silva intercepted a clearance of Salman Al-Faraj and converted from close range. Omar Khribin scored for Al-Hilal in the 37th minute striking a close-range effort through the legs of Urawa Red Diamonds goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa.
Having drawn first leg in Riyadh 1-1, Just an another draw is enough for Urawa Red Dragons to clinch the title as per away goal rule.
With both sides beginning cautiously, the first half saw very few notable chances, with the first of them falling to Urawa’s Kazuki Nagasawa who fired wide from just outside the area in the opening minute itself. The visitors came closest to scoring when Salem Al Dawsari went past Tomoya Ugajin and struck a fierce effort just over the Urawa goal in the 25th minute.
Al Hilal, trying hard to manufacture chances, were left dismayed when midfielder Nicolas Milesi blasted over from 15 yards after being set up by the heavily marked Omar Khribin and both teams went into the break level on the night.
Urawa once again started the second-half on the ascendancy with Rafael Silva skewing an effort wide in the 46th minute. Needing desperately to score a goal, Al Hilal drove forward in attack and Yasser Al Shahrani saw his low shot on the hour mark deflected agonisingly wide.
The big mistake made by Al-Hilal Head coach was substituting the tournaments top goal scorer Omar Khribin with Mukhtar Fallatah but all-important goal eluded them.
It was Urawa who went close yet again when Al Hilal goalkeeper Al Mayoof pulled off a superb reaction save to keep out Shinzo Koroki’s header from Yosuke Kashawagi’s free-kick from the left, before Tomoaki Makino was thwarted on the follow-up.
Al Hilal’s task was made harder in the 78th minute when Al Dawsari was sent off for picking up a second yellow card. As a tense finale to the game ensued, Rafael Silva popped up with the winner in the 88th minute to send te home crowd into raptures and seal the result in Urawa Reds’ favour.
He raced on to Yuki Muto’s through ball and found the net from 15 yards for his ninth goal of the tournament, in the process making Urawa Red Diamonds the first Japanese side to be crowned the kings of Asia after Gamba Osaka in 2008.
And after 10 years Urawa Red Diamonds had won the title and qualified to the Quater-final stage of 2017 FIFA club world cup, UAE.
Top Scorer: Omar Kharbin (Al-Hilal)
Scored a total of 10 Goals.
Best Player of the Tournament: Yōsuke Kashiwagi (Urawa Red Diamonds)