HONGKONG (Reuters) – Peru international Andre Carrillo’s second half header gave Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal a 1-0 win against Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds in the first leg of the Asian Champions League final in Riyadh on Saturday night.
Carrillo nodded into an empty net after goalkeeper Haruki Fukushima misread Mohammed Al Burayk’s cross from the right on the hour mark to give the two-time Asian champions a narrow advantage ahead of the return fixture in Japan on Nov. 24.
Fukushima, making his Asian Champions League debut due to the suspension of first choice Shusaku Nishikawa, had an impressive first half.
The 26-year-old denied Carrillo when he parried the Peruvian’s header at full stretch, while Ali Al Bulayhi fired wide from close range.
Fukushima also kept out a Sebastian Giovinco effort. The former Italy international had earlier missed a gilt-edged chance when, with Fukushima beaten, his poorly placed side-footed effort was cleared off the line by Takuya Aoki.
Urawa sat deep and attempted to hit Al Hilal on the break, and Takahiro Sekine should have done better in the 17th minute when he fired a weak shot that was blocked by the home defence.
It was a rare foray into the Al Hilal penalty area for Tsuyoshi Otsuki’s team, however, who are looking to claim the title for the second time in three years having defeated Al Hilal in the final two years ago.
The Saudis will be looking to become the first team from west Asia to win the continental club title since Qatar’s Al Sadd captured the trophy in 2011.
(Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Hugh Lawson)