Jeonbuk bounce back from scandal to success
Jeonbuk forget domestic woes as they win first Asian title in a decade
AFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL, 2ND LEG
AL AIN 1
(Lee Myung Joo 34)
JEONBUK MOTORS 1
(Han Kyo Won 30)
● Jeonbuk win 3-2 on aggregate.
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors are champions of Asia's elite club competition again, despite a match-fixing scandal which rocked their domestic season and effectively cost them the K-League Classic title.
The South Korean club held on for a 1-1 draw and a 3-2 aggregate win over the UAE's Al Ain in an incident-packed second leg of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League final yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Al Ain had missed a penalty and had their coach Zlatko Dalic sent to the stands in stormy scenes at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium.
Jeonbuk's victory stunned the home fans and left Al Ain's talismanic captain and playmaker Omar Abdulrahman, who was well-shackled for much of the final, stony-faced despite being named Player of the Tournament.
Defending K-League champions Jeonbuk were docked nine points and fined 100 million won ($120,000) by the league's disciplinary committee in September for payments a club scout made to referees in 2013.
The points deduction cost Jeonbuk dearly as they lost the title to FC Seoul by three points.
The pain was forgotten yesterday morning, as Jeonbuk coach said they had achieved an "unforgettable dream" by winning the AFC Champions League, reported the AFC website.
"It's our first (Asian) title since 2006, I'm so happy," said their coach Choi Kang Hee.
"When we lost in (the 2011 final to Al Sadd on penalties), the fans were so dispirited, so winning the AFC Champions League is an unforgettable dream."
Han Kyo Won volleyed Jeonbuk ahead on the half-hour before Al Ain's South Korean midfielder Lee Myung Joo equalised four minutes later.
But the turning point came in a chaotic few minutes before half-time, when Brazilian striker Douglas missed a penalty and Dalic was given his marching orders shortly afterwards.
Al Ain's assistant coach Borimir Perkovic, deputising for his fellow Croatian Dalic, said he felt the home club "deserved to be champions".
"In the second half, maybe we didn't play at the same level as the first 45 minutes, but we gave our all," he said.
"Bravo for everybody, the players who played today and the fans were fantastic."
"I'm sure Al Ain deserved to be champions. We are sad, but this is football. I want to say congratulations to Jeonbuk."
For mop-haired Abdulrahman, who has been linked with Manchester City, Barcelona and Arsenal, it was a crushing disappointment and he was consoled by players and officials.
"I want to tell the fans I'm sorry and I hope they will support us like they did today, with a full stadium," he said.
Jeonbuk now progress to next month's Club World Cup in Japan.
- Wire Services.