1129 GMT January 18, 2019
A Siamak Nemati’s goal in the second half canceled out Baghdad Bounedjah’s early opener to give Persepolis an aggregate 2-1 victory over Qatar’s Al Sadd in the AFC Champions League semifinals in a packed Azadi Stadium in Tehran on Tuesday.
Godvin Mensha’s well-placed cross was met by Nemati’s superb left-footed volley in the 49th minute to seal a first-ever place in the final tie for the Iranian Reds.
Iranian striker Ali Alipour should have put the tie to bed on 64 minutes, but his close-range effort was palmed away by the Qatari goalkeeper Meshaal Aissa.
Following a 1-0 first-leg home defeat, Bounedjah leveled the tie in the 17th minute after the Algerian converted Hasan Al Haydos’s low cross from the right flank.
Haydos failed to double his side’s lead before the interval, only to see his one-on-one effort saved by the Reds’ in-form keeper Alireza Beiranvand.
The home fans in the stadium and homes took their hats off to Beiranvand for producing a heroic save to send Xavi’s point-blank goalbound header above the bar four minutes from normal time.
The struggling men of Croat manager Branko Ivankovic will play the first leg of the eagerly-awaited final away to the winner of today’s tie between South Korea’s Suwon Samsung Bluewings and Kashima Antlers of Japan before hosting the deciding showdown in the Azadi Stadium on November 10.
Powered by a 3-2 home victory, Antlers visits Suwon Samsung in the second leg.