Al Sadd players celebrate with the trophy after their win against South Korea’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors yesterday.
JEONJU, South Korea: Qatar’s Al Sadd stunned home club Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 4-2 on penalties to win the 2011 AFC Champions League title yesterday.
Both sides were deadlocked at 2-2 following extra-time in the tense final. Former Portsmouth left-back Nadir Belhadj fired the winner into the roof of the Jeonbuk net, sparking delirium among the Al Sadd players and breaking the hearts of the near-capacity crowd at the 43,000-seat Jeonju World Cup Stadium.
The Qatari side pocketed the top prize of $1.5m and a ticket to next month’s FIFA Club World Cup.
The home side had dramatically forced extra time with an injury-time equaliser, but amid high tension Al Sadd goalkeeper Mohamed Saqr - who exhibited patchy performance - brilliantly saved penalties from Kim Dong-Chan and Park Won-Jae.
“I’m very happy for him. When I returned to the club people told me he can’t play any more, they said he was too old, but he played fantastic,” Al Sadd coach Jorge Fossati said of his goalkeeper.
Jeonbuk, chasing a second Champions League win after lifting the trophy in 2006, came close several times in a nerve-shredding 30 minutes of extra time, but were repeatedly denied by the underdog visitors. Brazilian Eninho had given Jeonbuk the lead with a deliciously curled free-kick on 17 minutes, but an own goal by Sim Woo-Yeon levelled the scores before Abdul Kader Keita’s speared shot put the visitors in front. Former Middlesbrough striker Lee Dong-Gook later apologised to his fans.
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