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Kim's Ulsan Hyundai enjoying the moment, Miura proud of Vissel Kobe making AFC Champions League history


Doha: Ulsan Hyundai FC head coach Kim Do-hoon credited the positive atmosphere within the squad for his side’s 2-1 extra time victory over Vissel Kobe in the 2020 AFC Champions League semi-final on Sunday.

Ulsan Hyundai were made to wait 120 minutes to get their winner from the very last kick of the ball at Jassim bin Hamad Stadium.

After a goalless first half, Hotaru Yamaguchi’s goal from a well-worked Vissel Kobe corner kick was cancelled out by Bjorn Johnsen’s strike nine minutes from time, taking the tie into extra time. A penalty in the last minute allowed Junior Negrao to slot home his fifth of the campaign and send the Koreans into the final.

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“Before the game we expected it to be a difficult game,” said Kim. “The players did well and left everything on the pitch so I would like to say congratulations.

"Before we came here, morale was low in our squad because we had lost two domestic titles, but after we arrived here the players tried to enjoy the moment and we tried to make our own atmosphere as a team."

Semi-final: Ulsan Hyundai FC 2-1 Vissel Kobe (AET)

“I really appreciate everyone’s effort. The players are tired, but they try to enjoy the competition.

"I would like to express my appreciation to all the players in the squad, even those who could not play and were on the bench, they all played their role here," said Kim.

While Ulsan prepare to contest the second AFC Champions League final in their history, Vissel Kobe’s maiden adventure came to an end at the penultimate hurdle, but despite the disappointing defeat, head coach Atsuhiro Miura found the truth in the whole, expressing his pride of the players who made club history.

“Of course, it is a disappointment to lose. It is not the result we wanted here,” said Miura.

“Our target is to be number one in Asia, we wanted to reach the final, but for a club like us to reach the semi-final at the first time of asking is amazing.

"We know it is not easy at this level, but we are happy and proud to have shown the continent who Vissel Kobe are and what we stand for," said Miura.

The AFC Champions League exit also leaves the Kobe-based side with one last game to play before concluding a disappointing domestic season with a bottom-half finish in the J1 League all but confirmed and no Emperor’s Cup title defence as they were not included in the 2020 edition of the competition.

For Ulsan Hyundai, Islamic Republic of Iran's Persepolis FC await in Saturday's final.

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