Tehran: Islamic Republic of Iran’s Persepolis will head into the Knockout Stage of the 2018 AFC Champions League as winners of Group C, after overcoming Qatar’s Al Sadd with a 1-0 win on Matchday Six.
Backed by a vociferous home crowd, Persepolis needed less than three minutes to go in front. Mohammed Ansari whipped in a tricky cross from the left wing and Al Sadd defender Morteza Pouraliganji inadvertently headed past his own keeper to give the Tehran giants an early lead.
Needing just a draw to finish top of the group, Al Sadd pushed forward in search of the equaliser but they were not particularly effective, with only Xavi and Baghdad Bounedjah coming close to scoring in the opening half.
The visitors looked more dangerous in the second half and Boualem Khoukhi thought he had levelled the scores when he finished off Bounedjah’s cross in the 62nd minute. However, the effort was ruled out for offside.
Persepolis looked comfortable defending their narrow lead and goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand had very little to do for most of the game, until a nervy final 10 minutes, when Al Sadd almost broke the home crowd’s hearts.
First, Bounedjah rattled the crossbar from close range with a stinging strike in the 87th minute, then just seconds later, Akram Afif registered what was surprisingly Al Sadd’s first shot on target but Beiranvand was on hand to palm the ball away.
This result means that Persepolis finish the group stage as winners of Group C with 13 points, one ahead of Al Sadd who go through as runners-up. Persepolis will now face the second-placed team from Group A in the Round of 16, while Al Sadd play the winners of the same group.
date: 17 April 2018 id: 25881 source: afc