Iranian professional football club Esteghlal Tehran has moved to the top of Group A of the 2017 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League with a win against Uzbekistani football club PFC Lokomotiv Tashkent.
On Monday evening, the Tehran-based team, which plays in the highest level of the Iranian football league system – the Persian Gulf Pro League, pummeled Railroaders 2-0 in a match played at all-seater Azadi Stadium in western Tehran.
Esteghlal manager initially fielded goalkeeper Mehdi Rahmati, defenders Khosro Heydari and Róbson Januário de Paula, Leandro Padovani and Milad Zakipour, midfielders Omid Ebrahimi, Omid Noorafkan and Farshid Esmaeili in addition to forwards Ali Ghorbani, Behnam Barzay and Kevah Rezaei.
The hosts started the game in a dominant fashion, but Lokomotiv could bring the match under control as the time passed.
Uzbeks even went close to score the opener but did not manage to find the net.
The golden opportunity for Lokomotiv Tashkent came in the 17th minute, when Esteghlal goalkeeper sought to hack the ball away from the penalty area, but just slipped. Lokomotiv player, however, spoiled the chance and mishit the target.
Esteghlal finally took the lead in the 37th minute, with Esmaeili receiving the ball and firing it through a crowd of players from 16 yards towards the visitors’ goalpost. The ball cruised past Ignatiy Nesterov and kissed the net.
Lokomotiv footballers sought to level the score just after the interval. The Persians maintained the composure, though, and disallowed the visitors to emerge.
Esteghlal was about to double its lead nearly a quarter into the second period, but Ebrahimi sent his kick out for a corner.
Ali Ghorbani was finally on the score sheet in the 84th minute to seal Esteghlal’s 2-0 win over Lokomotiv.
Earlier in the day, Iran’s Zob Ahan Isfahan handed hosts Football Club Bunyodkor a 0-2 Group C defeat at the multi-purpose Bunyodkor Stadium in the Uzbek capital city of Tashkent.
Both teams were not able to produce a goal in the first half, but after the restart a mistake from Javlon Mirabdullaev allowed Honduran striker Jerry Bengtson to get the first goal for Zob Ahan.
Things went from bad to worse for the home side in the dying minutes of the match as Morteza Tabrizi netted a penalty in the injury time and secured a 2-0 win for his green-clad Iranian squad.