Yokohama v Al Ain: Hernan Crespo's side lose out narrowly in ACL final first leg

UAE team go down to two late goals in Japan after Mohammed Abbas put them in front

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Al Ain lost the first leg of the Asian Champions League final in Japan on Saturday, defeated 2-1 by Yokohama F Marinos.

The 2003 champions, the only UAE club to be crowned Asian champions, had taken the lead at Yokohama International Stadium on 12 minutes, when Soufiane Rahimi robbed possession from Carlos Eduardo and raced through on goal.

The Moroccan’s effort was blocked brilliantly by Marinos goalkeeper William Popp, but Mohammed Abbas was on hand to squeeze the rebound into the goal.

The visitors thought they had doubled their lead right on the hour. Matias Palacios broke beyond the Marinos defence and his somehow squirmed through Popp’s legs, only for VAR to show the Al Ain midfielder had strayed just offside.

Either side of the incident, goalkeeper Khalid Essa made super stops to keep his side in front. First, the Al Ain captain tipped around the post Asahi Uenaka’s curled shot from the edge of the area; minutes later, Essa thwarted Takuya Kida with another acrobatic save, the ball then spinning into the air and bouncing on top of the crossbar.

Yet the Marinos eventually pulled level. On 72 minutes, Yan Matheus cut in from the left and sent a perfect cross into the Al Ain area, leaving Uenaka to head home from close range.

With five minutes remaining, the hosts snatched the win. Substitute Kouta Watanabe deflected home Ryo Miyaichi’s shot at the back post but was quickly flagged for offside. However, following a lengthy VAR review, the goal was allowed.

Contesting their first Champions League final, the Marinos will take a slender lead to Al Ain’s Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on May 25.

Al Ain train for ACL final first leg - in pictures

Updated: May 11, 2024, 2:22 PM