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Persepolis Wins Decisively,  Esteghlal Escapes Defeat
Persepolis Wins Decisively,  Esteghlal Escapes Defeat

Persepolis Wins Decisively, Esteghlal Escapes Defeat

After Iran’s Zobahan and Tractorsazi lost their games on Monday to Al Duhail of Qatar and Al Ahli Saudi FC respectively, Persepolis’ impressive victory and Esteghlal’s precious draw were very comforting for Iranian fans

Persepolis Wins Decisively, Esteghlal Escapes Defeat

Persepolis defeated Uzbekistan’s FC Nasaf 3-0 on Tuesday at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium during its first Group C match of the 2018 AFC Champions League.
Later in the night, Esteghlal left Doha with one point after tying with Al Rayyan SC in a hard-fought match in which the Blues could have come out victorious.
After Iran’s Zobahan and Tractorsazi lost their games on Monday to Al Duhail of Qatar and Al Ahli Saudi FC respectively, Persepolis’ decisive victory and Esteghlal’s precious draw were very comforting for Iranian fans.
According to the AFC website, Persepolis, the 2017 semifinalist, took the lead 20 minutes in when Nigerian forward Godwin Mensha headed home Vahid Amiri’s cross from the right flank to put the Reds in front at the half-time break.
After the restart, striker Ali Alipour netted a brace to round off the Iranians’ triumph. First, he collected a pass from right-back Sadegh Moharrami and fired with venom into the top corner from inside the box in the 66th minute.
Alipour added his second of the night five minutes later, this time finding space inside Nasaf’s box to receive a squared pass from the left by Mohammad Ansari and driving it low with his left foot into the back of the net to complete a 3-0 win.
In the other match of Group C in Dubai, striker Baghdad Bounedjah scored a brace after coming off the bench to help his Al Sadd side come from behind to earn a 2-1 away win against Al Wasl.
Persepolis tops Group C now with the same three points as Al Sadd but due to better goal difference. The Reds will travel to Qatar to face Al Sadd in the next match while Nasaf will host Emirati side Al Wasl.

 Late Minute Point
Al Rayyan captain Rodrigo Tabata had a mixed evening as his side played out an entertaining 2-2 draw against Esteghlal at Jassim bin Hamad Stadium in the first match of Group D.
Two-time AFC Player of the Year Server Djeparov found space inside Al Rayyan’s box and sent a pacey cross that was deflected off Tabata and into his own net to hand Esteghlal the lead inside six minutes.
Tabata shortly made amends, sending a pinpoint delivery from a free-kick to find Abderrazzak Hamed-Allah. The Moroccan directed his header accurately to beat goalkeeper Hosseini and bring Al Rayyan level in the 18th minute.
The duo combined again 10 minutes later to turn the tie around. This time Hamed-Allah was the creator as he cut inside from the left flank and laid off a pass for Tabata who applied a first-time finish from inside the box, leaving Hosseini helpless.
Esteghlal created several scoring chances in both halves (especially during the second half) but lack of accuracy in final shots and bad luck prevented the team from opening the Qatari side’s goal.
Al Rayyan was reduced to 10 men for the final 10 minutes after Tabata was dismissed for a late challenge on Pejman Montazeri.
Esteghlal took advantage of the numerical superiority to equalize two minutes from time as Ali Ghorbani headed home Omid Ebrahimi’s cross from the right wing.
In the other group match, the last two AFC Champions League runners-up, Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s Al Ain, started their 2018 campaign with a goalless draw.
So after their first games, all the four teams in Group D have gained one point which makes their next matches even more critical.
Esteghlal will face Saudi champion Al Hilal for the next game while Al Rayyan will travel to the UAE to play Al Ain.

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