HONG KONG: Mehdi Torabi’s 90th-minute goal took last year’s beaten finalists Persepolis into the quarter-finals of the Asian Champions League on Tuesday as the Iranian side beat tournament debutants Istiklol 1-0 in Dushanbe.
Torabi shattered the hopes of the Tajikistan champions when his attempted cross from the corner of the penalty area sailed over the head of goalkeeper Mukhriddin Khasanov and into the back of the net.
That was enough to take Yahya Golmohammadi’s side into Friday’s draw for the last eight as the Tehran-based club look to go one step further in the continental championship after last year’s final loss to South Korea’s Ulsan Hyundai.
Persepolis, who were also runners-up in the competition in 2018, were joined in the next round by Al Nassr as the Saudi Arabian side saw off the other remaining Iranian team in the tournament with a 1-0 victory over Tractor FC in Doha.
Vincent Aboubakar scored the game’s only goal in the 11th minute when a perfectly weighted pass from Anderson Talisca, a recent signing from Chinese side Guangzhou FC, released the striker into the Tractor area and he slipped the ball home.
Al Wahda needed a penalty shootout to defeat fellow United Arab Emirates’ side Sharjah and move through to the next round, with goalkeeper Mohammad Al Shamsi saving the final two penalties as Henk Ten Cate’s side earned a 5-4 win.
The game had ended in a 1-1 draw after former Asian Player of the Year Omar Khribin put Al Wahda in front in the 57th minute, the Syrian poking home having seen his initial effort partially saved by Adel Al Hosani.
But Bernard pulled Sharjah level a minute later when the ex-Everton man’s strike kissed the inside of the right post as it flew past Al Shamsi and the game eventually went to penalties.
Al Hosani saved Jose Jurado’s opening spotkick, but when Al Shamsi kept out Ben Malango’s attempt in the final round the contest went into sudden death and Al Hosani dived to deny Khaleil Khamis to send Al Wahda through.
Defending champions Ulsan booked their place in the next round earlier on Tuesday with a penalty shootout win over Kawasaki Frontale while Nagoya Grampus defeated Daegu FC 4-2 to go through as well.
They joined 2019 champions Al Hilal in the last eight after the Saudi Arabian side defeated Esteghlal on Monday.
Two-time champions Jeonbuk Motors will take on Thailand’s BG Pathum United on Wednesday as Cerezo Osaka meet Pohang Steelers in the final two remaining last-16 ties.
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