Kuala Lumpur: Al Hilal SFC were crowned kings of Asia for a record fourth time after their 2-0 victory over Pohang Steelers in front of home support at King Fahd International Stadium on Tuesday saw the Saudi side win their second AFC Champions League title in three years.
The final was the culmination of more than seven months of action in which the competition expanded to a record 40 sides as 11 teams made their AFC Champions League debuts in the group stage.
But in the end it was Asian football’s most successful side that came out on top as goals from Nasser Al Dawsari and Moussa Marega saw the trophy return to Riyadh once more.
As fans of Asian football now look forward to the 2022 edition, the-AFC.com highlights the stats and facts that caught the eye from the grand finale.
Riyadh: Al Hilal SFC firmly cemented themselves as the most successful club in Asia by clinching the 2021 AFC Champions League on Tuesday.
The 2-0 win over Korea Republic's FC Pohang Steelers at the majestic King Fahd International Stadium was their second in two years, with their 2019 triumph having ended a wait of 17 years to lay their hands on the AFC Champions League trophy.
Jardim hails dominant Al Hilal after winning 2021 AFC Champions League
Riyadh: Al Hilal SFC head coach Leonardo Jardim hailed his side as deserving champions after defeating Korea Republic’s Pohang Steelers 2-0 in the final to win the 2021 AFC Champions League on Tuesday.
The Saudi powerhouse made it four titles in the competition and two in the last three years, also pipping their opponents to the title of the most successful club in the AFC Champions League history, having been joint holders of the record with Pohang Steelers.
Having joined Al Hilal in the summer, Jardim remains unbeaten across all competition and the 47-year-old capped off a scintillating AFC Champions League knockout stage journey by becoming the first Portuguese manager to win the title.
2021 AFC Champions League MVP Al Dawsari hungry for more honours
Riyadh: Al Hilal winger Salem Al Dawsari was adamant he is more motivated than ever to win more honours, both for the team and individually, after being named the 2021 AFC Champions League Most Valuable Player.
The 30-year-old lifted his second AFC Champions League trophy in his fourth final, having started and lost the 2014 decider against Western Sydney Wanderers and the 2017 final against Urawa Red Diamonds, before helping the club win the next two against Urawa in 2019 and on Tuesday against Pohang Steelers.
He joins a select group of players to have competed in as many finals, dominated by Al Hilal players current and past such as Mohammed Al Shalhoub (2000, 2014, 2017 and 2019), Saud Kariri (2004, 2005, 2009 and 2014) as well as current teammates Yasser Al Shahrani and Salman Al Faraj.
Pohang Steelers’ Kim bemoans loss of concentration after AFC Champions League final defeat
Riyadh: Pohang Steelers head coach Kim Gi-dong admitted his side lost their focus after conceding inside the first 16 seconds of the 2021 AFC Champions League final against Al Hilal, ultimately going on to lose 2-0.
The Koreans returned to the final for the first time since winning the title in 2009 and were up against the only other side in the continent that could boast matching their three AFC Champions League titles.
Kim Min-jae, Minamino and two Australian hat-tricks: Vote for AFC International Player of the Week!
Kuala Lumpur: Derby delight in Istanbul, hat-trick heroics in London and Glasgow and a poignant UEFA Women’s Champions League win highlight the latest batch of star showings from Asian players abroad.
Kim Min-jae reigned supreme in Turkey’s biggest fixture, Sam Kerr and Martin Boyle both bagged sensational trebles, and Saki Kumagai, Takumi Minamino and Masaya Okugawa all found the net for their respective clubs in another busy week of action.
But who deserves the title of Asia’s best player outside the continent from November 16 to 22? Study our shortlist, and don’t forget to register your vote!