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Riyadh: Carlos Eduardo has set his sights on winning the AFC Champions League after the Brazilian netted a superb treble in Al Hilal’s 3-0 quarter-final second leg victory over Al Ain on Monday to advance to the last four by the same aggregate scoreline.

After the Saudi Arabian side held the 2016 runners-up to a scoreless draw in the United Arab Emirates last month, they returned home looking to progress to a third semi-final in four years.

And the more than 42,000 inside King Fahd International Stadium were not to be disappointed as Carlos Eduardo’s stunning hat-trick sealed a return to the last four after missing out last year.

 

“The AFC Champions League is the only trophy I am yet to win at Al Hilal,” said attacking midfielder Carlos Eduardo.

“I know our fans are eager to win it, so we will have to work hard to bring the trophy home and make them happy.”

After an even start, the deadlock was eventually broken in the 42nd minute with a goal made in South America.

Uruguayan Nicolas Milesi floated in an inch-perfect free-kick from the left and Carlos Eduardo, who had drifted behind the Al Ain defence, provided the finishing touch by heading past Khalid Eisa for his fifth goal of the tournament.

The pair were working in tandem once more three minutes later as midfielder Milesi dinked a beautiful ball over the top for the Brazilian to take on the chest and then emphatically volley home to give the visitors a mountain to climb after the interval.

A semi-final place was all but confirmed with 16 minutes remaining when Salem Al Dawsari slipped the ball through to the advancing Carlos Eduardo, who dispatched with aplomb from just inside the area to wrap up a 3-0 scoreline.

“This [Man-of-the-Match] award is for the whole team,” said the former Porto and Nice player.

“Everyone put in the effort and, despite the suspensions we suffered from, everyone worked hard for 90 minutes.”

The three goals added to the four already notched up by Carlos Eduardo – including one in the Round of 16 victory over Esteghlal Khouzestan – to leave the Brazilian joint-top of the scoring charts with Al Ain’s Omar Abdulrahman and Hulk of Shanghai SIPG.

Al Hilal’s next task will be to progress to a first final since 2014, when they narrowly lost out to Western Sydney Wanderers after suffering a 1-0 aggregate defeat.

Photos: Lagardère Sports

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