October 4 – Neymar scored his first goal since his high-profile €90 million move to Al-Hilal on Tuesday as the Saudi Arabian club beat Nassaji Mazandaran 3-0 in Tehran in the Asian Champions League.
Just 24 hours after the Asian Football Association called off the game between another Saudi team, Al-Ittihad and Sepahan, four-time continental champion Al-Hilal were too strong for the Iranian hosts at the Azadi Stadium.
On Tuesday in Isfahan the AFC called off the Champions League fixture between Sepahan and Al-Ittihad at the Naghsh-e-Jahan Stadium at the last minutes and with 60,000 fans in the stadium. The reason was due to a political images and statements being positioned pitchside.
The AFC sanctioned the return of home and away Champions League matches in September for Iranian and Saudi clubs the first time since 2015. Since 2016 clubs from the two nations drawn against each other in AFC competition were mandated to play ties at neutral venues.
The match in Tehran was not without incident though.
Neymar, who missed a penalty in last Friday’s win over Al-Shabab in the Saudi Pro League, had been the target of cans and bottles thrown from the home fans in Tehran in what appeared to be retaliation for his social media comments purporting to criticize the state of the pitch.
The Brazilian superstar, who moved to Riyadh from Paris Saint-Germain in August, silenced the crowd two minutes before the hour as he shot home from the edge of the area with his side already ahead.
Both teams were reduced to 10 men with seven minutes remaining in the first half as Al-Hilal’s Salman Al Faraj and Nassaji’s Amir Houshmand were dismissed.
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