17.04.2021 21:51 h

Iran's Persepolis maintain perfect start in ACL

Shahriar Moghanlou was on target twice as Iran's Persepolis maintained their perfect start to the Asian Champions League with a come-from-behind 3-1 win over Qatar's Al Rayyan on Saturday.

The 2018 and 2020 runners-up, who had beaten Al Wahda two days earlier, scored all their goals in the second half with Moghanlou grabbing his double after Kamaleddin Kamyabinia had cancelled out Al Rayyan's lead in the 47th minute.

Al Rayyan, who were surprisingly held by debutants Goa FC in their opening Group E match, had gone ahead in the 19th minute thanks to a Naif al-Hadhrami header from an Abdelaziz Hatim free-kick following some poor defending by Persepolis.

But the Iranian champions' superiority was never in doubt as they created several chances later in the half, although they failed to take advantage of any of them.

Al Rayyan goalkeeper Fahd Younis also proved a thorn for them, saving efforts from Moghanlou, Mehdi Torabi and Jalal Hosseini.

But once the match resumed after the break Al Rayyan's and Younis's luck ran out, with Kamyabinia heading home off a Torabi corner in the 47th minute to help Persepolis draw level.

Two minutes later Moghanlou volleyed past Younis after Siamak Nemati had done all the hard work on the right flank and crossed as Persepolis grabbed the lead.

The striker was again in the thick of the action in the 57th minute, taking advantage of the space inside the box and scoring from a pass by Omid Alishah.

In the same group earlier, debutants FC Goa maintained their unbeaten start, snatching their second point with a goalless draw against the UAE's Al Wahda in Margao, India.

Having drawn their opening match against Al Rayyan, Goa once again frustrated their more illustrious rivals at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in a match that saw the UAE side fail to translate their domination into goals.

The Emiratis almost paid heavily for their lapses 17 minutes form close but Devendra Murgaokar's right foot shot off a Brandon Fernandes pass was palmed away by goalkeeper Mohamed al-Shamshi.

Elsewhere, Uzbekistan's Pakhtakor were held to a goalless draw by Iraq's Air Force Club in Group B.

This was Pakhtakor's second consecutive draw in the tournament after they had held Iran's Tractor FC 3-3 on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, there was disappointment for Xavi's Al Sadd as the former champions crashed to a 3-1 defeat against Saudi Arabia's Al Nassr in Riyadh in Group D.

Al Sadd, who won the title in 2011, had drawn their opening match against Foolad Kouzestan of Iran on Wednesday, and will have to get their act together in a format where only the group winners and three best second-placed teams qualify for the knockouts.

Foolad, meanwhile, edged past Jordan's Al Wehdat 1-0 to occupy second place behind Al Nassr on goal difference, with both teams on four points.

Matches in Asia's west zone are being played in bio-secure bubbles in Goa, Sharjah, Riyadh and Jeddah, while the east zone schedule is yet to be finalised because of the Covid-19 pandemic.