0319 GMT January 28, 2020
Iran's Esteghlal Khuzestan head coach Akbar Pour-Mousavi expressed optimism that his side would be able to celebrate booking a berth in the Round of 16 of the 2017 AFC Champions League (ACL) by notching up only one point in its Matchday 6 fixture against the UAE's Al Jazira.
Salman Bahrani’s spectacular injury-time overhead kick secured a point for the Iranian Persian Gulf Pro League club Esteghlal Khuzestan on Tuesday as it drew 1-1 with Saudi Arabia’s Al Fateh in the ACL's Group B, Tasnim News Agency reported.
Addressing a press conference, Pour-Mousavi said, "It was an important match. We could be the winner. We were completely in control of the game. However, in the final minutes, we lost our grip on the match and, thus, conceded a goal on a not too dangerous ball. After the goal, we fought back and scored the leveler in the last minutes.
Bahrani's late equalizer came thanks to an acrobatic strike after substitute Ali Al Zaqan had looked set to seal all three points for the Arabian Saudi club with his effort just five minutes from time.
Expressing gratitude toward his players for their convincing performance, he noted, "Now, we will have the opportunity to celebrate the sealing of our advance to the Round of 16 with our fans at home [in the southwestern Iranian province of Khuzestan]. We squandered lots of scoring chances. Otherwise, we could have emerge victorious."
The draw means third-placed Al Fateh remains two points behind the 2016 Iranian champion which is in second.
The Saudi side is scheduled to meet Lekhwiya in the final round of matches knowing it will need a win over the Qatari side if it is to stand any chance of reaching the Round of 16, while hoping that Esteghlal Khuzestan fails to take any points from its encounter with an already eliminated Al Jazira.
Commenting on the 1-1 draw, Al Fateh head coach Fathi Al-Jabal said his team was better than Esteghlal Khuzestan and has a high chance of reaching the next round.
"We were better than Esteghlal Khuzestan, particularly, in the second half. Our rival had great strength and demonstrated high seriousness. We failed to use our scoring chances but are pleased with the result. We could have won in case we had avoided the mishap in the last minutes."