Zob Ahan see off Aizawl in ACL qualifiers

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Iran’s Zob Ahan have advanced to the group stage of the 2018 AFC Champions League after beating Indian outfit Aizawl 3-1 at the Foolad Shahr Stadium.

It was the hosts who got off to a dream start when they were awarded a penalty after three minutes; captain Mehdi Rajabzadeh making no mistake in sending Avilash Paul the wrong way from 12 yards.

However, Aizawl equalised in the 21st minute when Andrei Ionescu improvised well to get in ahead of Mohammad Nejad Mehdi, and loft a volley over a stranded Mohammad Mazaheri and into the back of the net.

It then proved to be a real battle of attrition between the two sides and extra-time looked to be on the cards as neither side could find a breakthrough for much of the second 45.

But, with seven minutes remaining, Morteza Tabrizi helped the Iranians reclaim the lead when he escaped his marker to net with a glancing header at the near post.

And, deep into injury-time, Tabrizi struck again when he nodded home Mohammad Reza Hosseini’s cross from a yard out – after being left unattended once more at the far post – to seal the win for his side.

Zob Ahan now progress into Group C of the Champions League, where they will face Al Duhail, Al Wahda and Lokomotiv Tashkent over the coming months.

ZOB AHAN: Mohammad Mazaheri, Milad Fakhreddini, Mohammad Nejad Mehdi, Vahid Mohammadzadeh, Mohammad Sattari (Ghasem Hadadifar 66’), Hamid Bou Hamdan, Giorgi Gvelesiani, Mohammad Reza Hosseini, Mehdi Rajabzadeh (Bakhtiar Ramani 46’), Morteza Tabrizi, Kiros.

AIZAWL: Avilash Paul, Chawnghlut Lalrosanga, Renthlei Laldinliana, Masih Saighani, Lalram Hmunmawia, Alfred Jaryan, David Lalrinmuana (Rochharzela 87’), Lalthathanga Khawlhring, Albert Zohmingmawia (William Lalnunfela 57’; Lalkhawpuimawia 72’), Shylo Maltsawmtluanga, Andrei Ionescu.