Iran’s Zob Ahan out of AFC Champions League

May 26, 2016

Inaugural winners Al Ain hit their stride in the 2016 AFC Champions League on Wednesday as Zlatko Dalic’s side advanced to the quarter-finals with a 2-0 win over Zob Ahan that secured the side from the United Arab Emirates a 3-1 aggregate win over the former finalists from Iran.

Lee Myung-joo and Danilo Asprilla scored a goal in each half to take the 2003 champions into the draw for the quarter-finals for the second time in three seasons as they stay on track to reach the final for the first time since 2005.

“In the pre-match press conference, I had said that if we were going to win we had to fight hard. We did so, and we were the dominant side throughout the match,” said Dalic.

“Zob Ahan are a hard working, strong team but we were better than them today. We deserve to be present among the last eight teams and I am honoured to be head coach of such a team.”

After a close first leg in the UAE, Al Ain – who have struggled in front of goal in this year’s competition – were in determined mood and it was no surprise when the club from the oasis city took the lead as early as the 12th minute.

The visitors had already threatened in the eighth minute when Omar Abdulrahman sent Asprilla down the right and the Colombian’s cross was sliced over his crossbar by Ali Hamam from just outside the six yard box.

Four minutes later, though, Al Ain took the lead, with Abdulrahman at the heart of the move that broke the deadlock.

The central midfielder latched on to a pass from his brother Mohamed Abdulrahman before cutting inside to beat two defenders and lay the ball off for Lee, whose shot with the inside of his right foot curled into the far corner of Mohammadrashid Mazaheri’s goal.

Al Ain continued to press, with Lee going close again just before the half-hour mark while Ehsan Pahlavan mustered a rare incursion into the opponents’ area for Zob Ahan in the 32nd minute only to drag his shot well wide of the target.

Asprilla and Mohamed Ahmed threatened again for Al Ain before the break while Zob Ahan’s best chance came nine minutes after the interval when Ismail Ahmed almost put the ball into his own net.

By the 61st minute, however, Al Ain doubled their lead when, with Zob Ahan putting an increased amount of pressure on the visitors’ goal, Mohamed Abdulrahman played a perfectly weighted ball into the path of Asprilla and he raced the down the middle half before sliding the ball beyond Mazaheri.

“We didn't have a good start,” said Zob Ahan coach Yahya Golmohammadi. “We conceded in a surprising way in the beginning of the match. We could have equalised but we didn't do so.

“In the second half we conceded for the second time through our own mistake and lack of discipline and concentration. We were behind by two goals, so it became too hard for us to get back into the match.”

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