Thursday 20 September 2018, 01:54

Deja vu as last four set

  • 2011 champions Al Sadd reach last four

  • Suwon eliminate Jeonbuk in dramatic fashion

  • Two re-meetings set in semi-finals

Former winners Al Sadd set up an intriguing semi-final re-meeting with Persepolis - who they faced in the group stage - after the two sides prevailed over two legs in their respective quarter-final clashes against Esteghlal and Al Duhail. The same can be said of Kashima Antlers and Suwon Bluewings, who will re-unite in the last-four encounter having eliminated Tianjin Quanjian and Jeonbuk Motors.

Al Sadd came from behind to draw against Esteghlal 2-2 at home but progressed courtesy of their 3-1 first-leg victory. Persepolis, for their part, fought back to register a 3-1 home win to progress with a tense 3-2 aggregate win against Al Duhail. In the east, it was a straightforward task for Kashima who followed up their 2-0 home win with a resounding 3-0 away triumph against debutants Tianjin. Suwon, though, needed penalties to edge two-time winners Jeonbuk.

Quarter-final results: Al Sadd 2-2 Esteghlal (5-3 agg) Persepolis 3-1 Al Duhail (3-2) Tianjin Quanjian 0-3 Kashima Antlers (0-5) Suwon Bluewings 0-3 (ET) Jeonbuk Motors (3-3, 4-2 pens)

Talking points Goalkeeping heroics While Suwon produced the biggest surprise by knocking out strongly-favoured Jeonbuk, they were indebted to custodian Shin Hwayong who saved three spot-kicks as they progressed in dramatic fashion. The first came in second-half stoppage-time when the two sides were locked 3-3 on aggregate and Jeonbuk won a penalty. With so much at stake, Shin kept his cool to deny Adriano to force extra time before twice saving in the shoot-out.

Honours even It was IR Iran versus Qatar in West Asia with each of their two remaining representatives facing each other. However, it ended with shared spoils with each country boasting a team in the last four.

Goalscoring record at stake With 12 goals garnered so far, Al Sadd’s Baghdad Bounedjah is currently topping the tournament goalscoring chart. The 26-year-old Algerian striker is just a goal shy of the all-time goalscoring record set by Brazilian Muriqui and, with at least two matches still to go, the in-form marksman is likely to set a new benchmark.

Evergreen Damjanovic Dejan Damjanovic proved once again that he is still in his goalscoring prime. The Montenegrin striker, now 37, has played a key role in helping Suwon go all the way to the last four. He scored a brace to help Suwon to a 3-0 first-leg victory, before making no mistake from the spot to set his side on the road to a 4-2 penalty shoot-out win.

Semi-final fixtures First legs: 2-3 October Al Sadd-Persepolis Kashima Antlers-Suwon Bluewings

Second legs: 23-24 October Persepolis-Al Sadd Suwon Bluewings-Kashima Antlers