A goalless draw at the Azadi Stadium on Saturday was more than enough for Kashima Antlers as the Japanese side won the 2018 AFC Champions League title with a 2-0 aggregate victory over Persepolis.
Kashima is the third Japanese team to be crowned the Asian champion after Urawa Red Diamonds (2007, 2017) and Gamba Osaka (2008).
A 2-0 home victory in the first leg had put the J-League side in the driver’s seat heading into the return leg and a tricky fixture in front of a capacity crowd in Tehran’s Azadi Stadium.
A first half of few chances saw Ali Alipour and Ahmad Nourollahi come close to give the Iranian champion a lifeline.
Alipour’s header from the penalty spot was well saved by Kashima’s keeper Kwoun Sun-tae before the South Korean again palmed away Nourollahi’s effort from the edge of the box.
Yuma Suzuki, meanwhile, had the opportunity to put the tie to bed for the Japanese outfit but his right-footed effort from a tight angle did not find the target.
After the break, Alipour again had the chance to put his side back in contention for the title, only to see his powerful left-footed shot go just wide.
Nourollahi’s shot in the 88th minute summed up the evening for the Iranians as his drive went wide.
The Reds’ final loss meant the capital’s Persepolis is the third Iranian side to finish as the runner-up in the new edition of the AFC Champions League after Sepahan (2007) and Zob Ahan (2010).
Iranians 25-year quest for the most prestigious Asian club title continues as Pas of Tehran was the last Iranian club to lift the trophy in 1992-93 season.