F·Marinos’ AFC Champions League run ends with final loss

F·Marinos’ AFC Champions League run ends with final loss

Yokohama F·Marinos' AFC Champions League dreams ended in the United Arab Emirates on Saturday, falling agonizingly short of taking home the continental crown after losing the second leg of the final 5-1 and 6-3 on aggregate.

The Tricolor entered the tournament’s ultimate match with a 2-1 advantage after their win in Yokohama, but knew they had a big challenge against an Al Ain team that had been exceptional all tournament long.

It was a fast and furious match right from the start, with the hosts landing the first blow through tournament leading scorer Soufiane Rahimi, who finished a gorgeous move to bring the tie level at 2-2 on aggregate.

It would go from bad to worse for F·Marinos around the half-hour mark, when VAR awarded a penalty to Al Ain, which was converted by Alejandro Romero to put Al Ain ahead on aggregate.

The Tricolor, however, would fight back, just as they have all tournament long. Their continued pressure paid dividends in the 40th minute when Yan Matheus' terrific cut-back gave him space to curl the ball past the goalkeeper and bring the tie level at 3-3.

The good times, though, would not last. Just before half-time, the Tricolor were reduced to ten men when goalkeeper William Popp came out to try to beat Rahimi to a through ball, but Rahimi got there first. Popp took him down just outside the box and the referee showed the Yokohama goalkeeper a red card.

Despite some resolute defending in the opening stages of the second frame, it only took one bad bounce for Al Ain to go ahead again on aggregate through a deflected shot from Rahimi that found the back of the net.

Al Ain made the man advantage count and would add two more goals in stoppage time to finish off a deserved Asian championship.

The men from Yokohama will be devastated to finish as runners-up after coming so close, but it was a history-making campaign for this club that had never before progressed past the last 16 in the competition and have so much to be proud of during a historic run.