Iranian football club Zob Ahan Isfahan has earned a valuable win at the preliminary round of the 2017 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League, triumphing over Bunyodkor of Uzbekistan.
On Tuesday, the Isfahan-based team, which competes in the Persian Gulf Pro League, defeated the visitors 2-1 at the end of a Group C match played in Foolad Shahr Stadium just outside the central Iranian city of Isfahan.
The hosts started the match strongly and managed to take an early lead in the fifth minute, when defender Vahid Mohammadzadeh hammered the ball home with a powerful header.
Bunyodkor players could not find the target to level the score later on, and Zob Ahan led 1-0 at the end of the first half.
The Persians maintained their composure after the break, and vigorously sought to double their lead.
In the 54th minute, 27-year-old Zob Ahan midfielder Mohammad Reza Hosseini rolled the ball from the left side of the pitch to teammate Morteza Tabrizi. Tabrizi then sent a home crowd of approximately 5,000 spectators into a frenzy, when he placed the ball at the back of the opponents' net.
Despite Bunyodkor striker Shakzodbek Nurmatov’s effort into the bottom corner 18 minutes from time, Zob Ahan could secure all three points of the fixture.
In another match of the day, 25-year-old forward Kaveh Rezaei saved Iranian professional football club Esteghlal Tehran from a loss in Group A of the AFC Champions League.
Marat Bikmaev gave Uzbekistani football club PFC Lokomotiv Tashkent the lead 13 minutes into the game, when he slid the ball home following Jaloliddin Masharipov’s ball over Esteghlal defense.
But Rezaei struck three minutes from time to ensure his Tehran-based team took a point from their meeting at Lokomotiv Stadium in Tashkent.