Saitama: Urawa Red Diamonds claimed the AFC Champions League 2022 title on Saturday as an own goal from Andre Carrillo earned the Japanese side a 1-0 victory over defending champions Al Hilal at Saitama Stadium 2002 to complete a 2-1 aggregate win over the club from Saudi Arabia.
Carrillo’s own goal came three minutes into the second half and ensured Urawa won the AFC Champions League title for a historic third time while denying Al Hilal the opportunity win a fifth Asian crown and to become the first club since Al Ittihad in 2005 to win back-to-back titles.
The victory means Urawa added the 2022 title to their successes in 2007 and 2017.
Urawa held a slim advantage going into the second leg after Shinzo Koroki’s goal in Riyadh last week had earned the Reds a 1-1 draw and Skorza’s side were unchanged at Saitama Stadium while Al Hilal made three alterations, two of them forced.
Abdullah Al Hamddan replaced the suspended Salem Al Dawsari while Abdullah Otayf took over in central midfield from the injured Salman Al Faraj and Carrillo claimed the final foreign player spot ahead of Moussa Marega.
The trio of changes made little difference to Al Hilal’s ability to dominate the midfield as they had in the first leg and it was the Saudi side who were on top throughout the first quarter of a game played out in front of a raucous 53,574 crowd.
Urawa’s Alexander Scholz was forced to clear off the line in the fourth minute from Odion Igahlo while Shusaku Nishikawa was alert enough to deny Michael’s low strike that was destined for the bottom corner.
The home side had barely mustered an attack of significance when Koroki gave Al Hilal a major fright, rattling the crossbar with a flying volley on the half hour mark after being found unmarked in the centre by Hiroki Sakai’s invitingly curled centre.
That was a rare sight of goal for Urawa, who had Nishikawa to thank three minutes from the break for denying Carrillo as the Peruvian tried his luck from distance only to see his attempt palmed to safety.
Carrillo was involved at the opposite end of the pitch three minutes into the second half when he inadvertently gave Urawa the lead. Ken Iwao’s wind-assisted free kick from inside the centre circle was headed towards goal by Marius Hoibraten and Carrillo thumped the ball into the Al Hilal goal.
Reds could have doubled their lead with 18 minutes remaining as substitute Jose Kante released Tomoaki Okubo into space, but his shot was sent high over the bar with only goalkeeper Abdullah Al Muaiouf to beat.
Atsuki Ito went closer still three minutes later as his right foot shot flew narrowly wide and Kaito Yasui was also marginally off target before Igahlo saw his late attempt kept out by Nishikawa as Urawa held on to claim a historic win.