Western Sydney claim ACL title


Riyadh: Western Sydney Wanderers weathered an unrelenting onslaught from Al Hilal to hold on to their slender advantage from the first leg of the AFC Champions League final to be crowned Australia’s first-ever Asian club kings thanks to a goalless draw at King Fahd International Stadium on Saturday night.

Tony Popovic’s side somehow kept the two-time continental champions at bay in front of a fiercely partisan full house to win 1-0 on aggregate thanks to Tomi Juric’s goal from the first leg in Parramatta last week.

Goalkeeper Ante Covic was the hero for the A-League side on Saturday evening, making a stunning save from Yasser Al Qahtani five minutes from time to deny the Saudis the chance to take the game into extra-time before keeping out Nasser Al Shamrani’s goal-bound effort moments later.

Covic’s late interventions capped a stellar display between the posts from the 39-year-old, but Al Hilal had only themselves to blame in a dominant display that should have resulted in a comfortable win for the Saudi giants.

Neither Juric nor Al Qahtani made it into the starting line-ups for their respective sides as both made one change each, as Al Hilal called Nawaf Al Abid for Abdullah Al Zori while Kwabena Appiah came in for Daniel Mullen for Western Sydney.