0620 GMT February 25, 2020
Iran’s Esteghlal opened its campaign at the 2020 AFC Champions League in emphatic fashion with a 3-0 victory over Kuwait SC in the preliminary round in Dubai, the UAE, with Shahr Khodoro coming out victorious over Bahrain’s Al Riffa 2-1.
Cheick Diabaté had a brace before skipper Voria Ghafouri scored a sublime free-kick to give Farhad Majidi, who replaced Italian Andrea Stramaccioni in December, an impressive debut as the permanent head coach of the Blues.
Saturday’s victory set a playoff encounter with Qatar’s Al Rayyan at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha on Tuesday, with the winner given a place in the group stage.
Elsewhere, Amin Qaseminejad’s late winner sealed a 2-1 victory over Al Riffa for Shahr Khodro after Mohammadreza Khal’atbari’s opener was canceled by Saleh Taher in the first half.
Shahr Khodro will play away to Qatar’s Al Sailiya on Tuesday for a place in Group B of the competition.
The two Iranian sides had been initially scheduled to host their preliminary-round fixtures in Iran on January 21 before the Asian football governing body moved the fixtures to a neutral venues due to ‘’security concerns”.