News ID: 201242
Published: 0322 GMT September 25, 2017

Persepolis to face Al Hilal for historic ACL final place

Persepolis to face Al Hilal for historic ACL final place
LAGARDÈRE SPORTS

Al Hilal hosts Persepolis in a much-awaited clash in the first leg of their 2017 AFC Champions League semifinal on Tuesday, with both sides looking to seize the initiative as they aim to win their first Asian title since the tournament revamp in 2002.

The teams met twice in Muscat during the group stage this year; the first match ended in a 1-1 draw while the return fixture brought about a goalless stalemate, the-afc.com reported.

Persepolis has had a historic AFC Champions League campaign in 2017, progressing to the Round of 16 where the Iranians defeated Lekhwiya of Qatar 1-0 to reach the quarterfinals for the first time.

Branko Ivankovic's men then went one step further when they completed a 5-3 aggregate victory over Al Ahli to book their spot in the semifinals.

The Tehran-based side showed great spirit and belief in the quarterfinals after overcoming a 2-0 deficit in the first leg before managing to defeat Al Ahli 3-1 in the second leg, despite being a man down since the 12th minute after Kamal Kamyabinia's sending off.

Persepolis leading scorer Mehdi Taremi with seven goals is set to miss the tie due to a FIFA suspension for breaching his contract with the Turkish side, Çaykur Rizespor, in 2016, however Godwin Mensha who has chipped in with two crucial goals off the bench in the quarterfinals is likely to fill in for the Iranian international.

Mohsen Mosalman and Ali Alipour have the ability to change the game, with both registering three assists each so far.

Mosalman, in particular, has excelled, with his 21 chances created putting him joint-highest among the semi-finalists.

Since topping Group D back in May, Al Hilal has kept up its unbeaten run in this year's competition to reach this stage.

The Saudi giant defeated Esteghlal Khuzestan 4-2 on aggregate in the Round of 16 before seeing off 2003 champion Al Ain 3-0 in the quarterfinals.

Tonight’s game will see Al Hilal make its third semifinal appearance in four years and its fans will be hoping for a positive outcome, especially after the impressive victory over Al Ain in the last round.

Carlos Eduardo netted all three goals in that win and his hat-trick heroics increased his personal tally to seven for the tournament.

Al Hilal's attack also features the Syrian forward Omar Khribin, who has scored four times so far.

Despite missing the injured Nawaf Al Abed, manager Ramon Diaz can look to key Uruguayan midfielder Nicolas Milesi and his contributions from midfield.

   
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