TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Esteghlal football team of Iran were held to a 1-1 draw by Al-Shorta of Iraq in Group A of the 2020 AFC Champions League.
Al-Ahli of Saudi Arabia have already booked their place in Round of 16 and the second ticket to this stage will have to be decided on Matchday Six.
Both sides went into the game needing a win to join group leader Al-Ahli into the next round, with Al-Shorta holding a three-point lead, but having played a game more.
Following a Mohammed Mezher corner, Mazin Fayyadh climbed unmarked inside the box, powering a header towards goal, but Seyed Hussein Husseini made a quality reflex save to deny Al Shorta their opening goal inside the first 10 minutes.
Fayyadh was the danger man again five minutes later, the winger advanced through the heart of Esteghlal’s midfield and tried his luck with a left-footed effort from outside the box. Marwan Hussein tried to pounce on Husseini’s spilled save, but defender Roozbeh Cheshmi was first to the ball and made the clearance.
Al Shorta’s number 14 finally got his goal in the 25th minute. Fayyadh lost his marker once again and guided his header from Ali Fayez’s corner kick into the bottom far corner of Hosseini’s goal to open the scoring for Al Shorta.
Substitute Amir Arsalan Motahari equalized the match in the 68th minute.
The result means Esteghlal need to defeat Al-Ahli by two clear goals on Matchday Six, while a 1-0 win for the Iranians would mean they have an identical goal-difference to Al Shorta and the two sides would have to be separated by their disciplinary record.
Al-Shorta’s hopes of qualification now relies on Esteghlal losing its next game.