Copa Libertadores winners Flamengo battled back from a goal down to book a place in the final with a 3-1 victory over Al Hilal, goals from Giorgian De Arrascaeta, Bruno Henrique and an own goal from Ali Al-Bulaihi sealed the triumph for the Brazilian side who will play either Liverpool or Monterrey in the Saturday final.
Surprisingly it was Hilal who looked the stronger side in the opening exchanges. With six minutes on the clock, Sebastian Giovinco drilled a shot from close range, which was deflected out for a corner. A signal of intent from the Asian champions.
Flamengo looked agitated, and a defensive error handed Hilal another opening. A needless foul on Giovinco opened up the best chance for the Saudi side quickfire free-kick fell to Salam Al Dossari, his first-time shot struck the side netting.
Salem Al Dosari again was at the heart of the action, and he saw his drilled shot denied by the reactions of Diego Alves, although Batafimi Gomis smashed the rebound well over.
Al Hilal was finding plenty of joy on the right-wing and deservedly took the lead eighteen minutes into the contest. Mohammed Al-Breik drilled the ball into the path of Salem Al Dosari who guided the ball past Alaves and put the Asian Champions ahead.
Flamengo kicked into life and could have had an immediate reply had Bruno Henrique's surging run not been denied by Al-Breik with a last-ditch challenge.
Jorge Jesus’s side badgered away for a leveller, yet it was Hilal who found space on the counter but could not quite put it together in the final third. Soon, the game fell into the pattern of Hilal breaking up the play with cynical fouls, much to the frustration of the Flamengo fans who made the long journey from Brazil.
Sebastian Giovinco, who had been lively on the counter-attack picked up a yellow for a cynical tug down on Giorgian De Arrascaeta, whilst defender Ali Al-Bulaihi joined him in the book for a rash challenge on Everton Ribero. Still, Hilal held on and had a vital 1-0 lead heading into the break.
Al Hilal’s lead wasn’t to last long as Flamengo found parity minutes after the restart. Giorgian De Arrascaeta turned in Bruno Henrique’s cross for the simplest of finishes from close range. Reinvigorated, the Flamengo fans found their voice.
It seemed a while coming but Flamengo eventually took the lead, Rafinha bent in a perfect cross for Bruno Henrique who planted the ball past Abdullah Al-Malouf with twelve minutes left to play.
Henrique had a decisive say in the third and final goal which put the contest beyond the Asian Champions. The winger latched onto a through ball from Diego and attempted to cross the ball into the box, which was turned into his own net by Hilal defender Ali Al-Bulaihi.
Hilal was reduced to ten men with minutes left in the contest as winger André Carrillo was shown a straight red for a kick on Giorgian De Arrascaeta. Still, it was a night to savour for the 15,000 Flamengo fans who travelled to Qatar, a final appearance awaits with most fans hoping for a rematch with Liverpool. A repeat of the 1981 Continental Cup Final.