Sepahan defeated by al-Ahli, out of AFC Champions League
Iranian champion Sepahan has been eliminated from the AFC Champions League, following an away loss to al-Ahli from Saudi Arabia.
With Sepahan down to ten men after around half an hour, the Iranian club collapsed to a 4-1 loss in the quarterfinal game against al-Ahli in Jeddah on Tuesday. Goalkeeper Reza Mohammadi was sent off by the referee at the 27th minute for a foul on Tasiri Al-Jassim that resulted in a penalty, but the video replays showed he had no contact with Al-Ahli's striker.
Victor Simoes converted the penalty to give al-Ahli the lead which was doubled at the 35th minute by Amad al-Hosni’s goal.
Farshid Talebi, from the Iranian side, pulled one back at the 37th minute for Sepahan to gain some hope but al-Hosni’s goal at the 46th minute and Abdulrahim Jaizawi’s at the 70th put the game out of reach.
Sepahan Croatian coach Zlatko Kranjcar said in a press conference after the match, "In the first 30 minutes of the match we had three good chances to score and if we had scored from any of those chances it would have been a different result. But we couldn't score and we paid the price.”
"The penalty and the red card changed the game for us and our performance dropped in the second period as we were playing with 10 men and we had only one man up front. Therefore, al-Ahli converted their chances unlike us," he added.
In their previous encounter in Isfahan, Sepahan and al-Ahli played out to a scoreless draw. In the other match of the day, China’s Guangzhou Evergrande defeated Saudi Arabia’s al-Ittihad 2-1. Guangzhou and al-Ahli will play against one another at the semifinal.
In other matches of the quarterfinal which will be held on October 3, Uzbekistan’s Bunyodkor will take on Adelaide United from Australia, and Saudi Arabia’s al-Hilal will meet South Korean Ulsan Hyundai.