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Kuala Lumpur: The final four of the AFC Champions League is always an exciting affair and since the tournament revamp in 2002, there have been plenty of exceptional encounters.

Ahead of the 2017 edition’s semi-finals, we have picked four stand-out ties to remember and relive. Let us know your favourite AFC Champions League semi-final on our social media pages.



2002-03 AFC Champions League: Dalian Shide vs Al Ain

First Leg: Al Ain 4-2 Dalian

Second Leg: Dalian 4-3 Al Ain

Our first semi-final classic is from the very first edition of the AFC Champions League when eventual winners Al Ain and Dalian Shide played out a thriller in 2003.

The first leg on April 22 in Al Ain saw the hosts plunder an incredible four goals in just over 20 minutes after Hao Haidong’s opener for the visitors, although Li Yao's late strike saw the score finish 4-2.

Incredibly, the return meeting in August would see that scoreline bettered as the sides took it in terms breaching one another’s defence.

However, when Hao thought he had squared things up with a strike on 84 minutes to make it 6-6 on aggregate, there was still time for a winner as Iranian Farhad Majidi was on target with three minutes remaining to see the Emiratis through to the inaugural final.

2004 AFC Champions League: Al Ittihad vs Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

First Leg: Al Ittihad 2-1 Jeonbuk

Second Leg: Jeonbuk 2-2 Al Ittihad

It was a similar story the next year for Al Ittihad. After a 2-1 first leg win over Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors at home in Jeddah, the mission was clear in Jeonju.

However, goals from Brazilian-born pair Paulo Rink and Botti put the Koreans ahead on aggregate at half-time.

A Tcheco penalty on 68 minutes levelled things up for the visiting Saudis before Osama Al Muwallad scored a memorable 89th-minute winner.

Like Al Ain, Al Ittihad would then go on to claim the title of Asian club champions.

2007 AFC Champions League: Seongnam FC vs Urawa Red Diamonds

First leg: Seongnam FC 2-2 Urawa Red Diamonds

Second Leg: Urawa Red Diamonds 2-2 Seongnam FC

Our first all-East Asian affair in this list saw Korea Republic’s Seongnam FC take on that year’s continental champions Urawa Red Diamonds in October 2007.

Honours were even after the first leg following a back-and-forth 2-2 draw in Korea before the concluding meeting in front of over 50,000 at Saitama Stadium.

Washington opened the scoring for Urawa before second half goals from Choi Sung-kuk and Kim Dong-hyun gave Seongnam the advantage until Makoto Hasebe’s 73rd-minute leveler.

The sides could ultimately only be separated by penalties and after Choi missed for Seongnam, Tadaaki Hirakawa would convert Urawa’s fifth successful penalty to see the J.League side through.

2015 AFC Champions League: Al Ahli vs Al Hilal

First Leg: Al Hilal 1-1 Al Ahli

Second Leg: Al Ahli 3-2 Al Hilal


Al Hilal fans look away now, the 2015 semi-final against Al Ahli was one that will haunt the Riyadh giants for years to come.

Having drawn 1-1 at the King Fahd International Stadium, Al Hilal were in confident mood going into the decider in Dubai.

A pair of goals from Rodrigo Lima and Everton Ribeiro cleared them of any ideas of an easy ride, but equalisers from Ailton and Carlos Eduardo put the Saudis ahead on away goals.

With time ticking down and the match into injury time, Al Ahli tried one last throw of the dice.

A free-kick was lofted into the area and the ball ricocheted to Kwon Kyung-won who fired home to earn the Emiratis a first-ever trip to the final of the AFC Champions League and break Al Hilal hearts.

Photos: Lagardère Sports