Late penalty earns Esteghlal victory
HONG KONG: Iran’s Esteghlal claimed a 1-0 win over Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates with Kaveh Rezaei’s last-gasp penalty in the first leg of their Asian Champions League last 16 tie on Monday.
Both teams were reduced to 10 men in the final quarter of the clash following the dismissals of Al Ain’s Saeed Juma and Farshid Esmaeili of Esteghlal in separate incidents.
Al Ahli Saudi recovered from a goal behind to draw 1-1 with Al Ahli of the UAE thanks to a strike seven minutes before halftime by Abdulfattah Asiri in their first leg.
In Tehran, Al Ain — finalists last year and champions in 2003 — struggled without their Saudi Arabia international Nasser Al Shamrani in a game of few chances.
The 33-year-old forward had to stay behind in the UAE after being unable to gain entry to Iran due to a diplomatic impasse between the Saudis and Iranians.
Asian Player of the Year Omar Abdulrahman failed to inspire his Al Ain team and the best chances of the game fell to Esteghlal’s ineffective Esmaeili until Rezaei scored from the spot in added time after Lee Myung-joo’s handball in the area.
In Jeddah, Khamis Esmaeel put the Dubai club ahead in the 21st minute after the hosts failed to clear Everton Ribiero’s free-kick into the area but Asiri levelled with a precise shot to leave the tie finely poised ahead of next week’s second leg. Reuters
Esteghlal’s Kaveh Rezaei celebrates with teammates after scoring against Al Ain in the AFC Champions League Round of 16 in Tehran on Monday. Esteghlal won 1-0.