Iran’s Persepolis advances to AFC champions semis

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Tehran, Sep 13 (IANS) Iran’s Persepolis football team booked a place in the 2017 AFC Champions League semi-final after beating Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli 5-3 on aggregate.

According to the Tehran Times daily, Persepolis clinched a 3-1 win in the return leg at Mohamed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, the UAE, on Tuesday, thanks to two late penalties, reports Xinhua news agency.

Ali Alipour gave Persepolis the lead after receiving a long pass just five minutes into the match.

The Iranians’ fortunes suffered a blow when midfielder Kamal Kamyabinia received a straight red card after a challenge on Waleed Bakshwan in the 12th minute.

Al Ahli capitalised on their one-man advantage and grabbed the equaliser when winger Saleh Al Amri curled one in from the edge of the area in the 52nd minute.

With the 1-1 result favouring Al Ahli on away goals, Persepolis piled the pressure in pursuit of a winner and Al Ahli’s defence cracked under pressure.

Al Ahli captain Motaz Hawsawi was sent off for handling the ball in an attempt to clear off his line and the referee awarded a penalty for Persepolis.

Substitute Godwin Mensha converted the penalty-kick to restore Persepolis’ lead and Mahdi Taremi added a second from the spot in added time to put the win beyond doubt.

Branko Ivankovic’s side will face Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal in the semi-final.

–IANS

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