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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 19 January 2019

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid hails historic Al Ain victory

UAE Rulers offer congratulations as host side sets up dream final against Real Madrid after surprise Fifa Club World Cup success

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid led the celebrations after UAE home heroes Al Ain netted a place in the history books and secured a shock Fifa Club World Cup semi-final triumph.

The Arabian Gulf League champions became the first UAE side to reach the final of the showpiece global tournament thanks to a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over highly fancied River Plate, of Argentina.

The win – which came after the sides were drawn 2-2 at the end of extra time – sets up a potential dream final for the tournament hosts against defending champions Real Madrid, who face off against Kashima Antlers in the second semi-final on Wednesday.

Sheikh Mohammed, the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, praised the battling Al Ain team for their heroic display.

"Al Ain has made us pleased, happy and glad by qualifying for the finals of the Club World Cup,' Sheikh Mohammed tweeted.

"It was a strong and heroic performance from a team that adores championships.

"Congratulations and we hope you lift the cup."

Caio (Al Ain) Disappointed that his impressive displays had not yet yielded a goal for himself, the Brazilian duly delivered against River Plate. Caio struck the equaliser not long into the second half, a brilliant solo effort that pushed the game to extra-time and penalties. He then scored first in the shootout. The winger’s performances have been electric, and his pace and trickery should cause Madrid’s backline problems.  Chris Whiteoak / The National
Caio (Al Ain) Disappointed that his impressive displays had not yet yielded a goal for himself, the Brazilian duly delivered against River Plate. Caio struck the equaliser not long into the second half, a brilliant solo effort that pushed the game to extra-time and penalties. He then scored first in the shootout. The winger’s performances have been electric, and his pace and trickery should cause Madrid’s backline problems.  Chris Whiteoak / The National

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, said he was delighted that Al Ain qualified for the final.

"We hope the heroic performance of the 'ainawis' will help them realise this honourable, historic achievement with the support of the UAE fans," he said.

Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, tweeted footage of the nerve-racking end to the penalty shoot-out along with a message of support.

"Congratulations UAE, congratulations Middle East, congratulation Asia," Sheikh Saif wrote.

"The finals have been reached by the champions."

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, joined in the chorus of royal congratulations for a milestone moment in UAE sport.

"Congratulations to Al Ain FC for qualifying for the final match of the Fifa Club World Cup," he tweeted.

"You proudly represent the UAE and the Arab world. We’ll be cheering for you. All the best."

Al Ain will try to make footballing history in the eagerly awaited final in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

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More from Fifa Club World Cup:

Fifa Club World Cup: Al Ain beat River Plate on penalties to reach historic final

Nine-man Esperance de Tunis defeat Guadalajara in penalty shootout

Real Madrid arrive in Abu Dhabi ahead of Fifa Club World Cup

Updated: December 19, 2018 01:54 PM

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