Al Ittihad advances to ACL final

BY foxsports • October 28, 2009

Al Ittihad reached the Asian Champions League final on Wednesday by beating Japanese club Nagoya Grampus 2-1 and advancing 8-3 on aggregate. Al Ittihad defender Saleh-Fahad Al Saqri scored in the 43rd minute and midfielder Amine Chermiti doubled the lead early in the second half to give the Saudi Arabian team a 2-0 lead in the second leg. Al Ittihad will face either South Korean club Pohang Steelers or Qatari team Umm Salal in the final on Nov. 7 in Tokyo. Nagoya looked set for a comeback when Australia striker Josh Kennedy hit the crossbar in the 30th. minutes before Keiji Tamada sent a drive off an Al Ittihad defender that flew just wide of the goal. Nagoya's hopes were dashed when Al Saqri picked up a loose ball in the area and shot past Nagoya goalkeeper Toru Hasegawa. The 21-year-old Chermiti, signed on loan from Hertha Berlin in August, doubled the lead in the 59th minute when he headed home a diagonal cross from Mohammed Noor. Keita Sugimoto pulled one back with a scissor-kick goal in the 67th. Kennedy set up Magnum in front of goal in the 88th minute, but the Brazilian winger could only shoot weakly into the arms of Ittihad 'keeper Mabrouk Zaid. Al Ittihad came close to extending its lead in the 90th when Chermiti intercepted a back pass to Hasegawa but shot wide of an empty net with his right foot. Nagoya played without Takahiro Masukawa, who was out with swine flu, and fellow defender Takeuchi Akira, who is under suspension after being sent off early last week.

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