RIYADH – Urawa Reds lost the first leg of the Asian Champions League final against Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal on Saturday, with Andre Carrillo scoring a second-half header for the hosts to secure a 1-0 win.
Urawa, seeking its third AFC title and first in three seasons, struggled with possession from the outset at King Saud University Stadium but matched the host’s tenacious defending until Carrillo headed home a cross from Mohammed Al Burayk in the 60th minute.
The two-leg home-and-away final, which concludes on Nov. 24 at Saitama Stadium, is a rematch of the 2017 ACL decider in which Urawa beat the Saudi club 2-1 on aggregate.
“Al-Hilal were an exceptionally good team (today),” Reds manager Tsuyoshi Otsuki said. “It’s unfortunate we lost, but we were able to finish the game strong and with purpose. Now we can return to Saitama Stadium targeting a score that’s within our reach.”
The winning team will represent the AFC at the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup, which begins on Dec. 11 in Doha.