1040 GMT May 06, 2021
Persepolis made it three wins out of three in Group E of the ACL 2021 with a 2-1 defeat of India's FC Goa, the-afc.com reported.
Victory for the 2018 and 2020 finalist, however, was only achieved after FC Goa created another milestone by scoring its first ACL goal to take the lead at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
Persepolis ultimately proved too strong as it added to the earlier victories against Al Ahli Saudi FC and Al Rayyan SC to open an impressive five-point lead at the top of the standings at the halfway stage.
Persepolis started the tie on the front foot and had its first look at goal after 10 minutes but Ahmad Nourollahi sent his free-kick straight into the arms of FC Goa custodian Dheeraj Singh.
FC Goa gradually grew into the match and was rewarded in the 14th minute when Edu Bedia (pictured below) rose high to nod home Brandon Fernandes’ free-kick to register a historic moment for the Indian club.
Persepolis, however, came back fighting and equalized when Mahdi Torabi sent Singh the wrong way from the spot in the 18th minute after Issa Alekasir had been brought down inside the box.
Persepolis increased its intensity of play and captain Jalal Hosseini scored his second of the campaign when he angled his header into the back of the net following Torabi’s cross from the left flank.
Singh, FC Goa’s star in the 0-0 draw with Al Rayyan on Matchday Two, was at his best in the 42nd minute to deny Hossein Kanaanizadegan from the penalty spot following a foul on Ehsan Pahlavan.
The FC Goa goalkeeper was kept busy after the restart, foiling Torabi just a minute in and then saving Hosseini’s header from inside the area moments later.
In an effort to boost its attacking threat, FC Goa sent Princeton Rebello and Ishan Pandita in place of Glan Martins and Brandon Fernandes respectively but Persepolis continued to pull the strings to see out the match for another three points.
The two sides will meet again on Friday with Yahya Golmohammadi's team aiming to take a step closer to the Round of 16 while FC Goa will surely relish another go at Persepolis.
Persepolis coach Golmohammadi said his team earned a hard-fought win over India’s Goa.
Golmohammadi said he knew his side would get the job done against FC Goa but admitted the Indian side had proven tough to beat.
“Everyone thought it was going to be an easy match for Persepolis,” said Golmohammadi.
“As head coach I knew it was going to be a tough match.
“We controlled the game in the first half and in the second half, we controlled the pace of the match and the players never surrendered.
“I want to thank all the players for their efforts. We could have scored the third goal but our opponents did well in defending. Getting three points in a match is tough but we will continue the way we have been playing in the next match. This win is dedicated to all Iran fans,” he concluded.
Foolad Khouzestan vs. Al Nassr
It was honors shared as Foolad Khouzestan FC and Al Nassr played to a 1-1 draw in Group D of the ACL 2021.
The draw saw Islamic Republic of Iran's Foolad and Al Nassr move up to five points, with the Saudis ahead on goal difference. Qatar's Al Sadd climbed to four points after defeating Al Wehdat of Jordan 3-1 in the other Group D tie on Tuesday.
The two will meet again on Friday, with Foolad aiming to do better if it is to overtake Al Nassr in the standings.
‘Same mistakes must be avoided’
Following the match, Al Nassr head coach Mano Menezes said it is important that his side learn from its mistakes if it is to come out on top in its Group D rematch with Foolad Khouzestan on Friday.
Menezes, who took charge of the Saudi club last week, admitted that his side struggled to perform against Foolad Khouzestan, particularly in the final third where it had 11 total shots on target compared to Iranian side’s five.
“There was still too much friction between the players on the pitch, and we didn’t do well,” revealed Menezes.
“The players had a number of opportunities, but unfortunately we didn’t take advantage of the opportunities available. We should have made better use of the opportunities we created.”
The Brazilian further revealed that his players made numerous collective mistakes, and urged them to overcome these challenges.
“We did our best to reach this result, and we will build on the lessons of this match so that we avoid the mistakes we made in the next match.”
Tractor vs. Air Force
Tractor extended its unbeaten run in the ACL 2021 Group B to three games as it played out a 0-0 draw against Iraq’s Air Force Club on Matchday Three at Sharjah Stadium on Tuesday.
Both teams came into their first-ever encounter in the competition on the back of goalless draws in the previous game, with Tractor having also drawn its Matchday One fixture against Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor and Air Force beaten by group host Sharjah on the opening day.
Back-to-back draws for both sides leave Air Force Club bottom of Group B with two points while Tractor’s three points place its behind leader Sharjah.
The two sides will meet again on Friday.
‘Fatigue to blame’
Tractor FC head coach Rasoul Khatibi blamed fatigue for his side’s inability to score in their 0-0 draw against Air Force Club.
“This game was totally physical, and we tried to fight man on man and we did well,” said Khatibi.
“After the 70th minute our players were exhausted and both teams had to stay focused to see it through. We had a couple of chances to score but their goalkeeper was focused and stopped us scoring.
“For the next match, we will make sure we have a quick recovery to avoid this experience of losing energy in the latter part of the game. The team with the better recovery will have a better chance in the next match.”
“The result is not good for us. We played well but again we struggled in front of goal,” said Air Force Club head coach Ayoub Odisho.
“We wanted to get a win to move up the table so we can have fresh motivation for the players with a change in the group standing, so that was a disappointment.
“Sometimes we need to impose ourselves more on the pitch. I know my players and I know they have more to offer. We hope we can get a positive result in the next game because previously we have not got into games from the start, so I hope this can change in the upcoming games.”
Photos by the-afc.com