October 5 – Persepolis became the first team to reach the final of this season’s Asian Champions League after defeating Al Nassr from Saudi Arabia on penalties in the last four.
The Iranian giants and their Saudi opponents were the final two standing in the West Zone of the ACL that has been played over the past three weeks in Qatar. The match was tied 1-1 after 120 minutes before Persepolis prevailed from the penalty spot 5-3.
Persepolis came from behind to take the match into extra-time after Al Nassr’s Abdul Razzaq Hamdollah, the competition’s top scorer, gave the Saudi club the lead, but it took the Iranians just six minutes to equalize through Medhi Abdi Qara.
He had replaced Persepolis’ star striker Isa Al Kasir in the starting eleven. The AFC suspended Al Kasir for six months after he made an offensive gesture on camera in the quarter-finals which the Asian governing body felt violated article 58 of the disciplinary and ethics code.
In extra-time, Persepolis also had midfielder Ehsan Pahlavan send off after he collected a second yellow card.
“It is a matter of believing in ourselves and believing we could qualify for the final,” said Persepolis coach Yahya Golmohammadi in a reaction.
“We were playing against a team that played very good football, but we had overcome a lot of problems since before our arrival here and that gave us added motivation to win and be able to bring joy to our fans and the Iranian people.”
It was Persepolis’ third semi-final in four years and they now qualify for the second final in three years. In 2018, the Iranians lost 2-0 to Japan’s Kashima Antlers.
Persepolis will now await the winner of the AFC’s East Zone competition for the final on December 19.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1603326623labto1603326623ofdlr1603326623owedi1603326623sni@o1603326623fni1603326623