TEHRAN (Dispatches) – Al Ittihad of Saudi Arabia football team defeated Iran’s Zob Ahan 4-3 in the second leg of the 2019 AFC Champions League in Doha’s Grand Hamad Stadium Monday night.
Having won the first leg 2-1, the two-time continental champion advanced with a 6-4 aggregate score and set up an all-Saudi quarter-final clash with one of its arch-rival Al Hilal or Al Ahli. The two sides face-off in Riyadh on Tuesday.
After several half-chances for both sides, it was Al Ittihad who finally opened the scoring just before the end of the opening period. New signing Emiliano Vecchio finished with his left into the bottom corner to put Al Ittihad 3-1 on aggregate.
After the restart, the game erupted into life with two goals in quick succession; one in each net. First, it was Zob Ahan who was gifted a goal through Luis Jimenez.
Just as an own goal helped revive its hopes, a minute later, it was an own goal that sunk Zob Ahan further.
Villanueva supplied a through pass for Romarinho, but the ball was closer to goalkeeper Mohammad Sadeghi who attempted to clear the ball, but completely miscued his kick and the ball ended in the back of his own net, handing Al Ittihad a 2-1 lead on the night.
Left-back Hamdan Al Shamrani embarked on a jinking run that ended with him deep into Zob Ahan’s box. The defender pulled the ball back for Romarinho who calmly controlled and finished for his fourth 2019 AFC Champions League goal in the 64th minute.
Six minutes later, Romarinho was on the scoresheet again, this time it was Jimenez on the assist, setting up the Brazilian after collecting a Villanueva pass at the edge of the Zob Ahan box. Al Ittihad was now 4-1 up on the night and 6-2 on aggregate.
Zob Ahan responded instantly as Hadi Mohammadi rose highest and powered a header into the roof of the net following Hadadifar’s in-swinging corner.
The goal-fest was not over yet. Four minutes to the end of 90, Chrisantus pounced back on the loose ball after Al Qarni punched away Alireza Cheraghali’s powerful shot from inside the box following a quick exchange of passes.
The Nigerian striker’s goal reduced the deficit to one, but at 4-3, Zobahan still needed two goals in the remaining time to turn the tie around but Jose Sierra’s men held on for the win to reach the AFC Champions League quarter-final for the first time since 2014.