1034 GMT December 12, 2019
Showing the greater initiative from the opening whistle at the Grand Hamad Stadium, it initially looked as though Al Ittihad would be denied the advantage heading into the break as it found Mohammad-Baqer Sadeqi in outstanding form, foxsportsasia.com reported.
On three occasions, the Zob Ahan goalkeeper produced outstanding saves to keep out goal-bound efforts by Romarinho, Carlos Villanueva and Luis Jimenez.
Nonetheless, right on the stroke of halftime, Zob Ahan’s awful defending was finally punished as Emiliano Vecchio exploited a huge gap in the opposition backline to race onto Villanueva’s neat pass and finish into the bottom corner.
Eight minutes after the restart, the Iranian outfit leveled the scores when a free-kick swung in from the left sailed over a sea of players and ricocheted off a luckless Jimenez, who could only watch on in horror as the ball hit the back of his own net.
But, straight from the kickoff, Zob Ahan fell behind once more in calamitous fashion and the disaster could not have struck a less-deserving player, as Sadeqi completely miscued an attempted clearance and sliced the ball backward into his own goal.
Ten minutes later, Al Ittihad added a third when Hamdan al-Shamrani embarked on a barnstorming run down the left and played a perfect low cross at the feet of Romarinho, who made no mistake this time in beating Sadeqi from six yards out.
Al Ittihad then looked to be coasting to victory when it scored again in the 70th minute, as Jimenez’s first-time layoff from an incisive Villanueva pass was finished off by Romarinho.
However, Zob Ahan reduced the deficit just two minutes later when Hadi Mohammadi got in ahead of his marker to meet Qassem Haddadifar’s corner with a thumping header past Fawaz al-Qarni.
And, with seven minutes remaining, the designated host gave itself more hope when Haddadifar and Danial Esmaeilifar combined to create an opening for Alireza Cheraghali, whose fierce drive was spilled by Al-Qarni for Macauley Christantus to pounce and score on the rebound.
Still, it was always going to be a bridge too far and it proved to be so, as Al Ittihad went on to claim the victory and book its place in the quarters.