Asian Champions League final: First-leg match-winner Leonardo says Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors must ‘play intelligently’ to get job done in Al Ain

Brazilian praised Al Ain for their display against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors on Saturday, but said he is aiming to reward his club’s supporters next week by bringing home the Asian Champions League trophy. John McAuley reports.

Leonardo of Jeonbuk Hyundai Motor celebrates his first goal against Al Ain. Choi Young-su / Reuters
Powered by automated translation

JEONJU // Match-winner Leonardo praised Al Ain for their display against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors on Saturday, but said he is aiming to reward his club’s supporters next week by bringing home the Asian Champions League trophy.

The Brazilian scored both Jeonbuk's goals in the first-leg victory in South Korea, finding the net twice in seven second-half minutes to secure a 2-1 win for the hosts. Not long before, Danilo Asprilla had given Al Ain the lead.

Jeonbuk, the 2006 Champions League winners, now travel to the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium for Saturday’s second leg. Leonardo said he understands the challenge posed by Al Ain, but the prolific winger is determined to repay the Jeonbuk fans who turned out on masse in the initial encounter.

More from the Asian Champions League final first leg:

• Ismail Ahmed: Defender confident Al Ain can overturn Asian Champions League final first-leg defeat

• Report: Al Ain still alive in Asian Champions League final despite Jeonbuk's slender advantage

• Reaction: Zlatko Dalic 'convinced' Al Ain can overturn first leg deficit

“I’ve been here four years now and when I scored I wanted to show all the players, staff and fans that we are all together,” said Leonardo, who upon scoring grabbed his Jeonbuk shirt and then gestured to the home support. “To show this feeling I patted the emblem of the jersey.

“The fans were incredible and I feel quite emotional to experience this final with 40,000 people who came out on a cold night to support us. I hope that some will come to Al Ain too, to hopefully celebrate victory with us and come back with the championship.”

Leonardo’s double – one a superb drive from range and the other an expertly dispatched penalty – took his tally for this year’s Champions League to 10 goals, meaning he ranks second only to Seoul’s Adriano in the scoring charts.

He will be looking to add to that haul in the second leg, although he saw enough of Al Ain to realise they pose a serious threat at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium.

“I expected today’s match to be hard and Al Ain put in a really good performance,” Leonardo told the Asian Football Confederation’s official website. “At half time all the players talked with each other, saying that we needed to concentrate and be more organised.

“All the Al Ain players prepared well against me but, despite this, I’m willing to play intelligently. Depending on how they play I’ll choose to dribble or shoot.”

Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE

Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/TheNationalSport