Thursday Mar 15, 201205:39 PM GMT
Esteqlal wins Hazfi (knockout) Cup after sinking Shahin in shootouts
Esteqlal and Shahin vie for the Hazfi (knockout) Cup at the Hafezieh Stadium of Shiraz, March 15, 2012.
Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:22PM
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Esteqlal has overcome Shahin of Bushehr in the penalty shootouts to be crowned champion of Iran’s 2011-2012 Hazfi (knockout) Cup after a soporific game failed to yield any openings in 120 minutes.

The Tehran Blues embellished their silverware cabinet with a sixth Hazfi Cup and booked a place in the next year’s Asian Football Confederation Champions League after seeing off their rivals from Bushehr 4-1 in the decisive spot kicks at the Hafezieh Stadium of Shiraz on Thursday.

Chances were few and far between in the game and the closest either team came to breaking the deadlock from open play was in the first half when Hadi Shakouri of Shahin rattled the post with a header.

The game, though, had to produce a winner however cautious both teams were in their bids to venture for such a prize, and it was ultimately the fateful kicks from the spots that separated the two sides and determined the winner of this season’s cup.

The Blues proved to be the superior side with all four of their penalty takers converting from the spot, while only one of the three Shahin players stepping behind the ball withstood the pressure and summoned the necessary composure to score.

While Shirin Faraz of Kermanshah, Mehr of Karaj, Persepolis, and Shahrdari Yasuj were Esteqlal’s other victims in its road to winning the trophy, Shahin of Bushehr flew past Nirooye Zamini, Aboomosleme Khorasan, Damash Gilan and Mes of Kerman in its own trajectory to the finals.

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