Iran's Esteghlal Melli-Sanati Khuzestan Football Club, commonly known as Esteghlal Khuzestan, has defeated Al-Fateh of Saudi Arabia 1-0 in the group stage of the 2017 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League.
On Monday evening, the continental debutants from Ahvaz started the Group B fixture at the multi-purpose Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in the Omani capital city of Muscat in an energetic fashion, and its players pressed forward to score the first goal every time they possessed the ball.
Esteghlal Khuzestan threatened the opposite side’s goal on a number of occasions. They, however, failed to score a goal in the first half and both teams went into the cloakrooms tied at nil.
The Persians had a vast array of scoring chances after the break, but they squandered the opportunities with the game drawing to a close.
It was not until 10 minutes from time, when Esteghlal Khuzestan defender Abolfazl Alaii rose highest to strike teammate Peyman Shirzadi's corner with a header, and place the ball in the back of the net to score the winner.
The goal ensured that the Iranian team, which won Iran’s Persian Gulf Pro League last season, took all the three points of the match.
“I would like to dedicate the victory to Khuzestan’s people. We are proud of the valuable win and it was a great step toward the AFC Champions League qualification,” Esteghlal Khuzestan manager Sirous Pourmousavi said.
“Al-Fateh are a great team and were more experienced than us,” he added.
Later in the day, Esteghlal Tehran Soccer Club fell to Al-Ahli of the United Arab Emirates 1-2 in its opening clash in Group A of the 2017 campaign.
Senegalese striker Makhete Diop netted Al-Ahli’s opener one minute into the injury time of the first half.
Esteghlal midfielder Omid Ebrahimi, though, scored the equalizer with a fine volley 16 minutes from time and drew level with the Emirati side.
In the dying minutes of the match at the multi-purpose Rashid Stadium in Dubai, Diop managed to meet Everton Ribeiro’s cross from the left. The 28-year-old managed to find the back of Esteghlal’s net and sealed the Dubai-based club’s victory with his brace.