TEHRAN (Iran News) – Iraqi midfielder Bashar Resan scored from the spot early in the second half as Iran’s Persepolis edged Al Taawoun 1-0 at the AFC Champions League (ACL) in Doha, Qatar.
A second victory over the Saudi Arabian club in three days saw the Iranian Reds move atop the Group C of the competition.
“I’m so grateful to my players as they played with all their hearts,” said Persepolis manager Yahya Golmohammadi, adding, “We did a good job in the attacking phase and could have scored more goals on the counterattacks.”
The Iranian – whose side will take on Qatari side Al Duhail on Monday before playing the UAE’s Sharjah on the final day of the group stage – urged his side to “stay focused on the remaining two matches as we’re not still guaranteed progress [to the last-16 round].”
Earlier in the day, Al Duhail was stunned 4-2 against Sharjah to sit third in the group – level on points with Al Taawoun – trailing Persepolis by one point, while the Emirati side, reaching the four-point mark, is now well in contention with a place in the knockouts.
Golmohammadi made two changes to the starting eleven that beat the Saudi club by a goal in the mid-week as veteran skipper Seyyed Jalal Hosseini was picked over Hossein Kanaanizadegan in defense, while holding midfielder Kamal Kamyabinia replaced Ahmad Nourollahi.
The Persian Gulf Pro League champion came closest to break the deadlock in the closing stages of the first half when Issa Alekasir’s curling strike from outside the box hit the post.
The 30-year-old striker again missed a chance to score his first goal for the club two minutes after the interval, failing to make a touch on Vahid Amiri’s fine cross, before being brought down by center-back Iago Santos in the box.
The Iraqi referee pointed to the spot as Resan sent Brazilian keeper Cassio the wrong way for the Iranian side’s opener.
Resan could have got his second of the night with 20 minutes left on the clock but saw his low effort from the edge of the box saved by the keeper’s fingertips before coming off the post.
Persepolis – which was five points off the top before the competition resumption – produced a firm defensive performance in the latter stages of the match and a held on for a crucial victory.
Meanwhile, Sepahan – which got off to flying start in the competition with a massive 4-0 victory over Al Ain in February – was dealt a huge blow to its pursuit of a top-two finish in Group D with a second consecutive 2-0 defeat at the hands of Saudi club Al Nassr.
Abdullah Madu gave Al Nassr the lead in the 32nd minute before Abderazak Hamdallah doubled the score with four minutes to go in the first half.
Friday’s win kept Al Nassr on top of the group with 10 points while Qatari giant Al Sadd thrashed Al Ain 4-0 to stay in the second place with eight points – widening the gap over Sepahan to five with two games to spare.
Sepahan will square off against the Qatari club on Monday knowing that any result other than victory will see the Isfahan-based club’s campaign come to an early end.
Blues on the verge
A victory in Sunday’s encounter against Iraqi side Al Shorta will secure a place in the knockout round for caretaker manager Majid Namjou Motlaq’s Esteghlal.
The Tehran-based Blues’ first two outings after the resumption – a double header against Al Wahda – was called off by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) after the Emirati side was forced to pull out of the competitions due to the diagnosis of several players with COVID-19.
Al Shorta was beaten 1-0 by Al Ahli last Monday but claimed a shocking 2-1 triumph in the reverse fixture to move up to second spot in Group A.
Esteghal – sitting third with one point – could move above the Iraqi side with a better head-to-head result, having settled for a 1-1 draw against Al Shorta on Matchday One.
- source : Iran Daily