Persepolis, Esteghlal seal spots at ACL knockout stage

April 3, 2018

Iranian football teams Persepolis and Esteghlal booked their places at the AFC Champions League Round of 16 on Monday.

Last year’s semi-finalists Persepolis sealed their place with a 0-0 draw against Uzbekistan’s FC Nasaf, as the Iranian side claimed a better head-to-head record in their Group C campaign.

The Reds dominated possession throughout the opening half but could not make a single shot on target for the entire 45 minutes as Nasaf defended resolutely in the face of frequent attacks.

The hosts’ most dangerous chance of the first half came in the 18th minute when Azizjon Ganiev’s cross from the right flank nearly tricked Persepolis goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand, but the Iranian international tipped it behind before defender Jalal Hosseini cleared the danger.

After the break, Persepolis stepped up their game as Siamak Nemati attempted to take Farshad Ahmadzadeh’s cross, but his half-volleyed effort sailed high above the Uzbek goal five minutes after the restart.

Nasaf boss Ruziqol Berdiev introduced striker Dragan Ceran at the hour-mark, and the Serbian’s first contribution was to set up Bobir Abdixolikov for an overhead kick that went just wide off Alireza Beiranvand.

Vahid Amiri set up substitute Ahmed Nourollahi at the edge of the penalty box and the midfielder’s strike from an angle was tipped over by Sanjar Kuvvatov to keep the score level at the final whistle.

The result confirms Persepolis and Al Sadd as the two qualifiers from Group C as Nasaf join Al Wasl in elimination, the-afc.com reported.

Also, Esteghlal advanced to the next stage with a 2-0 win over Qatar’s Al Rayyan at Azadi Stadium on Matchday Five of Group D.

The hosts got off to a flying start and needed just four minutes to open the scoring as Server Djeparov converted a cross from Farshid Esmaeili past goalkeeper Oumar Barry.

Al Rayyan captain Rodrigo Tabata attempted his luck from long distance, but his strike went wide in the 20th minute as the Qatari side intensified the pressure in an effort to find an equalizer.

Esteghlal doubled their lead 13 minutes after the restart as Vouria Ghafouri stepped up to drive home from the penalty spot to make it 2-0.

The result means Esteghlal are through to the Round of 16 while Al Rayyan will have to battle Al Ain for the second Group D ticket on Matchday Six in two weeks’ time.

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