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AFC Champions League: Al Ittihad overtake Sepahan to qualify for knockouts

Published at :December 5, 2023 at 11:31 AM
Modified at :January 14, 2024 at 12:12 AM
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(Courtesy : Al Ittihad)

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Jota scored his first AFC Champions League goal in this clash!

Al Ittihad topped Group C with a 2-1 win over Sepahan FC in their AFC Champions League 2023/24 match at King Abdulaziz Stadium on Monday.

Al Ittihad’s victory saw the Saudi Arabian club top Group C with 15 points, while Sepahan finished five adrift in second place with their Round of 16 hopes hanging in the balance. 

The hosts opened the scoring in the 15th minute in style, as Saleh Al Amri scored a sensational free-kick from the right side of the box. The forward’s first goal since August saw his curled effort find the top hand corner from range, where Payam Niazmand had no chance of saving it.

Fabinho had an opportunity 10 minutes later to double Al Ittihad’s lead, but the former Liverpool midfielder couldn’t direct his header on target from Jota’s free-kick.

One of Sepahan’s main threats came from Milad Zakipour, who looked to progress up the left hand side as often as possible. However, Al Ittihad dealt with him and the crosses which came into the box comfortably in the first half.

On the stroke of half-time, Farshad Ahmadzadeh looked as though he brought down Abderrazak Hamdallah inside the box and the referee pointed to the spot. However, VAR intervened and ruled out the penalty after seeing a different angle.

The visitors almost equalised in added time, where Reza Asadi was found inside the box twice, but his header and right-footed strikes were well saved by Abdullah Al Muaiouf. He first reacted quickly to get down low to his right, before pushing away Asadi’s strike close to the goalkeeper.

Three minutes after the re-start, Sepahan were level. A long ball into the box from Mohammed Daneshgar found Ramin Rezaeian unmarked at the back post who headed past Al Muaiouf to equalise.

The Iranian outfit continued to play to their strengths, looking to cross balls into the box from the left hand side, as Al Ittihad continued to struggle to deal with them in the second half.

However, it was the hosts who restored their lead with 20 minutes left to play. Goalscorer Al Amri cleverly turned away from his man before he played in Jota, where the Portuguese was able to prod home inside the box for his first AFC Champions League goal.

Sepahan’s goalscorer Rezaeian almost drew his side level once again with a free-kick similar to Al Amri’s in the first half. However, once again Al Muaiouf was equal to it and able to pull off an acrobatic save as Al Ittihad took the points.

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