News ID: 241170
Published: 0154 GMT April 09, 2019

Mansourian hails his comeback kings after beating Al Wasl

Mansourian hails his comeback kings after beating Al Wasl

Zob Ahan coach Alireza Mansourian was delighted with the way his side responded after the Persian Gulf Pro League side recorded a come-from-behind 3-1 win against the UAE's Al Wasl in Group A on Monday.

For a second consecutive AFC Champions League tie, Zob Ahan conceded early only to rebound in impressive style to secure victory, reported.

Caio's 14th minute opener at Al Wasl Stadium wasn't quite as quick as the goal Al Nassr's Giuliano netted to put Zob Ahan behind on Matchday Two, but the Isfahan side needed just two minutes to restore parity through Christian Osaguona before adding further goals from Amir-Arsalan Motahari and Hamid Bouhamdan.

"It's the fourth or fifth time we've made such a comeback recently," said former Iran international Mansourian.

"They surprised us really early in the match to go a goal up, but the fact that we were able to respond so well and make such a good comeback shows the team's mentality is very good.

"It was a tough game, but my young players played very well and I'm especially pleased by my captain's performance, he [Qasem Hadadifar] has a lot of AFC Champions League experience."

After a goalless draw with Iraq's Al Zawraa on Matchday One, Zob Ahan's win over Al Wasl, coming on the back of that rollercoaster 3-2 win over Al Nassr, now sees Mansourian's men three points clear at the summit of the Group A standings.

Al Zawraa, who lost 4-1 to Al Nassr in Monday's other tie, occupy second place on four points, with Al Nassr and Al Wasl a point further back.

However, despite their status as front-runners at the midway point, Zob Ahan's tactician is under no allusions that a Round of 16 spot is assured.

"As I say, I’m so happy with this result, but we have to remain focused and recognize that we're only halfway through the group stage at this point," said Mansourian.

"My players are young, so they will enjoy this result and be happy to get the win. But we know that we've got the second half of the group stage still to come."


‘Alive again’


Meanwhile, veteran defender Pejman Montazeri was on the scoresheet as Esteghlal FC defeated Al Hilal SFC 2-1 on Monday, and the 36-year-old said the victory has brought renewed hope for the 2019 campaign.

A recent poor run that included a defeat to bitter rival Persepolis was not the ideal preparation for a difficult-looking Group C clash against Saudi Arabia powerhouse Al Hilal, but Tehran giant Esteghlal rose to the occasion to secure a priceless win – their first of the 2019 edition – and stay in contention in the race for the Round 16.

In what has been considered among the most difficult groups in the competition this year – featuring three former continental champions in Al Ain, Al Hilal and Esteghlal, along with a team full of 2019 AFC Asian Cup winners in Al Duhail – Montazeri was in no doubt to the importance of the result.

"We feel like we are alive in the tournament again," said the Iran international. "We knew it was going to be a tough, important game because they are the team at the top of the group and we really needed these three points.

"Actually, we expected this game to be so intense, and so we played with full concentration from the first minute until the 90th.

"They are really good. Congratulations to the Al Hilal team for a great match.

"They played very well and they have many very good players, but this is football."

"Thanks God we got the win. But this is just the beginning for us, we’re now looking forward to the games to come and let’s see how things go."

With four points on the board, Esteghlal is level with second placed Al Duhail, which has a superior head-to-head record, and two further behind front-runner Al Hilal, which it will face in the return meeting in Abu Dhabi on April 23.






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