Persepolis players played their hearts out: Ivankovic

October 23, 2018

TEHRAN – Persepolis coach Branko Ivankovic said his players played their hearts out tonight against Al Sadd.

The Iranian giants booked a place in the final match of the AFC Champions League for the first time after beating the Qatari side 2-1 on aggregate.

In the match held in Tehran’s Azadi Stadium in front of 90,000 spectators, the tournament top scorer Baghdad Bounedjah silenced the stadium, finishing off a first time shot with aplomb past the outstretched arms of Alireza Beiranvand in the 17th minute.

Four minutes into the second half, Siamak Nemati volleyed in Godwin Mensha's cross from the left to make it 1-1 and put his side back in front on aggregate.

“First, I thank Persepolis fans for their support. We showed we play for them. I would also like to thank everyone who helped us to reach the final. I congratulate our goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand but it’s not fair if I don’t congratulate the other players,” Ivankovic said in the post-match news conference.

“Al Sadd are a strong team with great stars like Xavi and Gabi who are among the best players of the world. They had goal scoring chances but Persepolis had too. This is football and I think we fully deserved to reach the final,” the Croat added.  

“In my opinion, Persepolis players played their hearts out tonight against Al Sadd. When I joined Persepolis four years ago, I signed a contract with a clause about reward for winning the AFC Champions League. I am confident we can achieve what we want to achieve,” he said.

Persepolis will play either Suwon Samsung Bluewings from South Korea or Japan’s Kashima Antlers in the final match.

“No matter who we play against in the final match,” Ivankovic concluded.

Reporting by Masoud Hossein

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