Spirited Zob Ahan stun Esteghlal at the death

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

A dogged display from ten-man Zob Ahan saw them leave it late to beat Esteghal 1-0 in the first leg of their AFC Champions League Round of 16 tie.

In an intriguing encounter at the Foolad Shahr Stadium between two Iranian sides, it was Esteghlal who enjoyed the better of the proceedings and came closest to breaking the deadlock throughout the 90 minutes.

Vouria Ghafouri had a good chance as early as the fifth minute but was denied from point-blank range by Mohammad Mazaheri, who would go on to produced quite the inspired display between the posts for the hosts.

The Zob Ahan keeper produced another excellent stop to keep out a Farshid Esmaeili header 11 minutes later, before a ferocious drive from Dariush Shojaeian on the follow-up came crashing back off the woodwork.

A minute before the break, Mazaheri produced another fine stop at full stretch to keep out a Mohammad Satari header.

Not to be outdone, his opposite number Mehdi Ramati also did well to parry a downward header from Mohammad Reza Hosseini nine minutes after the restart, but it was Esteghal who looked the likelier of the two teams to go on and win it.

The situation became more difficult for the hosts in the 90th minute when they were reduced to ten men, as Mohammad Nejad Mahdi was sent off for a second bookable offence.

But, just a minute later, Zob Ahan were awarded a penalty when Rouzbeh Chehsmi was penalised for handball, paving the way for Giorgi Gvelesiani to send Rahmati the wrong way from the spot and claim a remarkable win for his side.

Esteghlal will now have to bounce back from their first defeat in 16 matches – with their last loss also coming against Zob Ahan – if they are to overcome the deficit and keep alive their hopes of winning the Champions League.

ZOB AHAN: Mohammad Mazaheri, Milad Fakhreddini, Mohammad Nejad Mahdi, Vahid Mohammadzadeh, Mohammad Satari (Ghasem Hadadifar 19’), Giorgi Gvelesiani, Hamid Bou Hamdan, Bakhtiar Ramani, Mohammad Reza Hosseini (Rabih Ataya 85’), Morteza Tabrizi (Mohammadreza Abbasi 67’), Kiros.

ESTEGHLAL: Mehdi Ramati, Pejman Montazeri, Rouzbeh Cheshmi, Majid Hosseini, Armin Sohrabian, Omid Ebrahimi, Farshid Bagheri, Vouria Ghafouri, Server Djeparov, Dariush Shojaeian (Ali Ghorbani 42’), Farshid Esmaeili.