* Alhi began as favourites after earlier 1-1 draw in Riyadh
* Dubai outfit were 2-0 up at halftime in semi-final second leg
* Hilal rallied to 2-2 before Kwon’s late strike
* Ahli reach first ever ACL final (Adds details)
By Matt Smith
DUBAI, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Kwon Kyung-won scored in stoppage time to send Dubai’s Al Ahli through to a first Asian Champions League (ACL) final after a 3-2 win in the home leg of their last-four encounter against Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal on Tuesday.
The South Korean’s deflected effort in the fourth minute of added time spared Ahli’s blushes after the 2014 UAE champions had thrown away a 2-0 halftime lead following goals from Brazilian duo Rodrigo Lima and Everton Ribeiro.
Ahli, who triumphed 4-3 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw in the first leg in Riyadh, will now face Japan’s Gamba Osaka or China’s Guangzhou Evergrande in November’s two-legged showpiece.
Ahli’s Lima made the breakthrough on 17 minutes, tapping into an empty net from three metres after strike partner Ahmed Khalil’s sublime left-wing cross eluded Hilal’s defence.
Ahli then seized control and on the cusp of halftime talisman Ribeiro ran onto Ismail al-Hammadi’s first-time through ball to lob the onrushing keeper.
That put Ahli 3-1 up on aggregate and sent their fans in the pistachio-strewn stands of Rashid Stadium into rapture.
Yet Lima and Khalil also missed excellent chances in between those two strikes and Hilal were a team transformed in second half after switching to 4-4-2 from a five-man defence.
The Saudi outfit’s own Brazilian pair, Ailton and Carlos Eduardo netted on 51 and 64 minutes respectively.
Ailton’s first-time finish arrowed into the corner after Saud Kariri’s instinctive flick, while Eduardo’s was a 30-metre rocket.
Ahli were stunned and Nassir al-Shamrani, a second-half substitute, could have sealed the tie but Asia’s Player of the Year failed to connect properly when clear.
Tempers flared, both on the pitch and among the capacity 9,800 crowd where the chanting of Al Hilal 1,000-strong contingent rivalled Al Ahli’s incessant drums.
The Dubai outfit, who must win this year’s ACL to qualify for the 2016 edition, created little thereafter beside a couple of half-chances that Lima squandered.
Then with barely a minute of added time remaining, Ribeiro swung in a free kick from the left touchline, Hilal failed to clear and midfielder Kwon plundered the winner from 10 metres.
In the other semi-final, Gamba will attempt to overturn a 2-1 first-leg deficit at home to Guangzhou on Wednesday. (Reporting by Matt Smith; editing by Toby Davis)