Manager Yahya Golmohammadi was left apologizing to Persepolis supporters after a dreadful display saw the Iranian club suffer a 3-0 defeat against Al Hilal at the AFC Champions League quarterfinals in Riyadh.
Salem al-Dawsari opened the account for the 2019 champion, which was playing in front of a fully packed home crowd, in the 27th minute before French striker Bafetimbi Gomis added a second-half brace to seal a place in an all-Saudi semifinal against Al Nassr on Tuesday.
“Before talking about technical aspects, the result is saddening and the responsibility is on my shoulders, so I would like to apologize to all our fans,” said Golmohammadi.
It was a horror show by the Tehran-based Reds, who were seeking a fourth last-four spot in five seasons, as they were clueless and toothless going forward, failing to create any notable opportunities, except for a couple of half chances through Issa Al-e Kassir.
On the other side of the pitch, meanwhile, Persepolis backline looked vulnerable all night, with Man-of-the-Match Dawsari being a constant threat down the left flank.
“The first goal we conceded was at a time when we had the ball. Al Hilal is a dangerous team when it takes the ball off the opponent and that’s what I had told my players prior to the game,” Golmohammadi said.
“It was a tough match against a strong team, we could have equalized when it was 1-0 but we could not take the single opportunity we got,” added the Iranian.
However, in fairness to Golmohammadi, the two sides entered the contest in opposite circumstances.
Persepolis was playing in a first competitive match since a 1-0 victory over Tajikistan’s Istiklol in the previous round on September 14 – and only the second since the final day of the Persian Gulf Pro League season in late July – while Al Hilal had already played six games in the new domestic league season.
The Reds have also had to deal with the departure of international center-back Hossein Kan’anizadegan and talismanic midfielder Ahmad Nourollahi, whose replacement Reza Asadi – a new summer signing – failed to rise up to the occasion against Al Hilal and was substituted at halftime.
Next for Persepolis is a return to the Iranian league, where Golmohammadi’s men will begin their quest for a sixth consecutive title at home against Nassaji Mazandaran on October 28.