Iran’s Esteghlal into ACL Quarterfinal
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - A Mame Baba Thiam hat-trick earned Esteghlal the final West Asia AFC Champions League quarterfinal ticket on Tuesday.
Esteghlal defeated fellow Islamic Republic of Iran side Zob Ahan 3-1 in the second leg, securing a 3-2 aggregate win.
After a tense start, Esteghlal was awarded a penalty kick in the 11th minute and Senegalese forward Thiam fired from the spot into the bottom left corner, taking the tie back to square one.
Hamid Bouhamdan came close to levelling the score for Zob Ahan in the 29th minute but his shot from the left cannoned off the woodwork.
As the first half neared its end, Thiam was on target again, this time from outside the box as he curled a left-footed effort that left goalkeeper Mohammad Rashid Mazaheri helpless to put Esteghlal in front four minutes before the break.
Thiam had more in store for Zob Ahan's defenders as he took his tally in the competition to seven goals, completing his hat-trick in the 64th minute. The striker, who joined Esteghlal in February, received Vouria Ghaffouri’s pulled back pass and applied a composed finish from inside the box.
Zob Ahan captain Ghasem Haddadifar restored some hope for the visiting team one minute later with a thunderous drive from outside the box that tricked Esteghlal goalkeeper Mehdi Rahmati. The Tehran based side held tight for the rest of the match to earn a victory on the night and joined its city rival Persepolis in the quarterfinal.
The two Iranian sides are joined by Qatari duo Al Sadd and Al Duhail in the West Asian quarterfinal which will take place in August and September.