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Al Hilal scrape through to ACL semis despite losing to Al Gharafa

Saudi Arabian club Al Hilal took a three-goal lead into their Asian Champions League quarter-final second leg with Al Gharafa and were almost eliminated from the competition.

Eric Gerets' men found themselves a goal down after 101 minutes of play with Al Gharafa scoring three in regular time before hitting the lead in the first few minutes of extra-time but they somehow clawed their back into proceedings and ended up producing a 5-4 aggregate win.

The second leg ended 4-2 to Al Gharafa with Al Hilal's two goals coming in the final three minutes of play, prompting Gerets to hail his sides miracle.

"We wanted to keep our concentration in the first 20 minutes of the match but we conceded a goal in only the second minute through some fantastic motivation shown by the Gharafa players," he said.

"After the first goal, we just did not play well as a team. We forgot how to play football after the first goal. It was a tough match and I am very happy we have qualified.

"We needed a miracle and we got it in the last minutes. Right now I am just thinking of going back to the hotel to get some sleep. Hopefully I will get some sleep. A lot of things went wrong."

Al Hilal will now meet Iranian outfit Zob Ahan in the semi-finals, which kick off on October 5.

Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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