Persepolis leave it late to floor Al Jazira

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

An 89th-minute strike by captain Jalal Hosseini sent Persepolis into the AFC Champions League quarter-finals on away goals at the expense of Al Jazira following a 4-4 aggregate draw.

Following a 3-2 defeat in last week’s first leg, Persepolis entered Monday’s return encounter at the Azadi Stadium aware that only a win would suffice if they were to stay alive in the competition.

And, with a raucous 78,000-strong crowd behind them, the Iranian giants showed plenty of endeavour from the opening whistle but were initially let down by some wasteful finishing.

The breakthrough did finally arrive three minutes afte the hour mark courtesy of a fine effort from Ahmad Nouroullahi, who received possession on the edge of the box and unleashed a 20-yard rocket that flew past a stunned Ali Khasif.

But, just seven minutes later, Jazira drew level when a patient passing move eventually resulted in Ahmed Al-Attas feeding the ball to Romarinho, who beat Alireza Beiranvand with a fairly tame shot that nestled into the back of the net.

Once again, Persepolis were in desperate need of a goal but Khasif was threatening to singlehandedly deny them as he produced a series of fine saves to keep the Emiratis aggregate lead intact.

But, a minute from time, 36-year-old Hosseini pounced on a loose ball inside the box after Jazira failed to clear their lines and proceeded to lash home on the half-volley to win it for Persepolis.

PERSEPOLIS: Alireza Beiranvand, Sadegh Moharrami, Jalal Hosseini, Shoja’ Khalilzadeh, Mohammad Ansari, Farshad Ahmadzadeh (Shayan Mosleh 85’), Hossein Mahini, Ahmad Nourollahi, Vahid Amiri (Bashar Resan 77’), Ali Alipour, Siamak Nemati (Godwin Mensha 66’).

AL JAZIRA: Ali Khasif, Khalifa Mubarak, Musallem Fayez, Mohammed Al-Musalami, Mohamed Fawzi (Ahmed Al-Attas 68’), Mohammed Jamal (Harib Al-Saadi 89’), Mohammed Al-Attas, Salem Rashid, Romarinho, Mbark Boussoufa, Ali Mabkhout.