AFC Champions League Q-finalists confirmed

ABU DHABI: Five former champions are among the eight teams who confirmed their places in the AFC Champions League 2023/24 quarter-finals after the conclusion of the Round of 16 on Thursday.

Over in the West, inaugural AFC Champions League winners Al Ain FC had to dig deep to secure a 2-1 second leg win at home against Uzbekistan’s FC Nasaf after a goalless draw in the first leg.

Soufiane Rahimi’s goal in the second minute of stoppage time sealed a meeting with Al Nassr in the next round, the Saudi Arabian side registering a 3-0 aggregate win over Al Fayha.

Having won the first leg 1-0, goals from Otavio and Cristiano Ronaldo did the job on Wednesday as Al Nassr kept their hopes for a first AFC Champions League title alive.

Completing the last eight were Saudi Arabian sides Al Hilal SFC and Al Ittihad, who confirmed their spots on Thursday.

Two-time winners Al Ittihad came from behind to secure a 2-1 win in the second leg against Uzbekistan’s Navbahor with Toma Tamatadze’s miskick from a corner handing an
87th minute winner to the Saudi side.

Al Hilal, seeking to be Asian champions for the fifth time, also had to come from behind to defeat Islamic Republic of Iran’s Sepahan FC 3-1, with the Saudi Pro League side advancing 6-2 on aggregate.

Among teams seeking their first title, China PR’s Shandong Taishan were the first to check into the last eight after an exciting 4-2 second-leg win over Japan’s Kawasaki Frontale on Tuesday.

Jadson’s stoppage-time strike proved to be the difference as Shandong emerged 6-5 winners on aggregate to set up a clash with another Japanese side in Yokohama F. Marinos.

Marinos – chasing their first title – were also beneficiaries of a late goal in the second leg as Anderson Lopes put away a decisive penalty just before the end of extra time to beat Bangkok United 1-0.

The other East quarter-final will be an all-Korea Republic affair with Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC facing Ulsan Hyundai FC.

Two-time champions Jeonbuk held their nerves to hold another Korea side in Pohang Steelers
to a 1-1 draw on Tuesday to book their place 3-1 on aggregate, thanks to Jeong Tae-wook’s header 14 minutes from the end.

Ulsan, also seeking a third AFC Champions League title, had a more straightforward encounter against Japan’s Ventforet Kofu, following up their 3-0 first-leg win with a 2-1 victory in Tokyo to advance.

The first leg of the quarter-finals will be played between 4th and 6th March.

Source: Emirates News Agency