Sepahan blanks Al-Nasr at 2012 AFC Champions League (video)
Iranian club Sepahan has blanked Al-Nasr of the United Arab Emirates at the group stage of the 2012 AFC Champions League.
Sepahan pummeled Al-Nasr 3-0 on Tuesday at al-Maktoum stadium in Dubai at a Group C match with only one game remaining to the knockout stage. Sepahan opened the scoring two minutes before the half-time when Mehdi Karimian's brilliant pass found Sepahan’s Brazilian striker Bruno Cesar, who lobbed the ball over Al-Nasr’s keeper Abdulla Moosa.
A controversial scene occurred shortly after the restart. Sepahan attempted to give the ball back to Al Nasr in a fair play gesture; however, Al-Nasr players hesitated to pick up the loose ball and Sepahan’s Alabanian striker Xhevahir Sukaj moved to take the ball. But Sukaj was stopped with a foul by Al-Nasr’s goalkeeper, and the keeper was sent off and a penalty shot was awarded to Sepahan.
Omid Ebrahimi then deliberately kicked the ball at the goalkeeper in an act of fair play. Soon after that, another penalty was awarded at the other end when Amara Diané was downed inside the box. Diane stepped up, but Rahman Ahmadi blocked the spot kick and the striker's following effort on the rebound.
Sukaj scored the second goal for Sepahan after 67 minutes when he took a powerful run over the left wing and sliced the ball into the far corner. Mehdi Seyyed-Salehi then sealed the victory for the Isfahan-based team with his powerful header to a corner 14 minutes from time.
Sepahan’s Croatian coach Zlatko Kranjcar said after the match, “We were the better team because we controlled the game throughout the match… We came here to get three points to top the group and to go through to the next round and I felt that we dominated the game from the start. With the quality that we showed today, I feel that we can go far in this tournament.”
In the other match of the group, Al-Ahli of Saudi Arabia defeated Qatari club Lekhwiya 3-0 to lead the Group on goal difference. Both Sepahan and Al-Ahli have 10 points and the group winner will be the victor of the match between the two. Also on Tuesday, Persepolis suffered a 1-0 home loss against Al-Hilal at a full Azadi stadium in Tehran.
Moroccan striker Youssef El Arabi fired home the winner on the hour mark as Al-Hilal leapfrogged Persepolis to the top spot of Group D with nine points one points adrift of the Reds.