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Al-Hilal 1 Urawa Red Diamonds 1: Rafael earns valuable first-leg draw

Urawa Red Diamonds survived second-half pressure to claim a 1-1 draw against Al-Hilal in the first leg of the AFC Champions League final.

The Japanese club were surprise winners over Shanghai SIPG in the last four, with Rafael da Silva netting the crucial goal in the second leg, and the Brazilian struck first in Riyadh to send the visiting fans into raptures.

Omar Khribin levelled the scores before half-time but, despite their pressure in the second half, Al-Hilal could not muster a second goal to give them a slender advantage heading into the return fixture on November 25.

Rafael pounced with only seven minutes played at King Fahd Stadium, converting from close range after a quick counter-attack.

Al-Hilal, who thrashed Persepolis 6-2 on aggregate in the semi-finals, found an equaliser eight minutes before half-time when Khribin turned and finished low from close range after Salem Al Dawsari's mishit shot fell into his path.

The Saudi Arabian side dominated possession in the second period but were unable to find a breakthrough, with Urawa goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa in excellent form.

The second leg will be played in Saitama next Saturday, with Takafumi Hori's side holding a slim advantage by virtue of their away goal.