Esteghlal 0-0 Nasaf
AFC Cup winners Nasaf picked up a first ever point in the AFC Champions League after sharing a goalless draw against Esteghlal at a lively Azadi Stadium on Tuesday.
The game failed to live up to the electric atmosphere in Tehran at the start of the Iranian New Year as Nasaf bounced back from letting slip a two-goal lead at home to Al Jazira two weeks ago.
Newly-crowned Hazfi Cup Esteghlal were able to extended their unbeaten run to four games in the competition after following up back-to-back wins in the play-offs with a 1-0 win over Al Rayyan two weeks ago, but will be disappointed to have dropped points at home after beating Al Rayyan in Qatar on Matchday One.
And with UAE Pro League champions Al Jazira beating Al Rayyan 3-2, Esteghlal find themselves two points off the pace in Group A.
“We played against a strong side who closed the spaces and made it a difficult game,” said Esteghlal Parviz Mazloomi, who saw his side win the Hazfi Cup on penalties on Thursday following a goalless draw with Shahin Bushehr to earn a place in the 2013 AFC Champions League.
“Don’t forget, that we played for 120 minutes just five days ago and this is why they put us under pressure in the second half. But it was obvious that they came for the draw and they got it.”
In a game of few note-worthy chances, Esteghlal’s Goran Jerkovic had the only real chance of the first half as the French striker shot straight at Murotion Zukhurov after netting the stoppage time winner against Al Rayyan two weeks ago.
In the second half, Arash Borhani shot wide after suddenly finding himself clean through on goal before Andrejs Pereplotkins wasted a glorious chance for Nasaf with 10 minutes remaining as the Latvian failed to find the target from Artur Gevorkyan’s cross.
“Esteghlal are a strong team but we played well against them,” said delighted Nasaf coach Ruzikul Berdiev.
“We had some weaknesses which we need to sort out before the next match but I thank the players for doing what we asked them to do.
“In this group, all four teams have the chance to go through and it’s too early to say who will.”