AFC – TABRIZ, Tractorsazi Tabriz began their maiden campaign in the AFC Champions League in impressive fashion as goals by Mehdi Seyed-Salehi, Javad Kazemian and Masoud Ebrahimzadeh gave the Iranian side a 3-1 win over United Arab Emirates side Al Jazira on Tuesday.
Roared on by a capacity crowd at the 67,000-seat Yadegar Emam Stadium, the home side took the game to their opponents in the first half and they grabbed a deserved lead in the 37th minute.
Al Jazira pushed forward in search of an equaliser early in the second half but they were very nearly caught out in the 55thminute when a great through ball picked out Seyed-Salehi, who streaked clear of the Al Jazira defence but dragged his shot from outside the box just wide of the post.
But on the hour mark, the Iranian side would make it 2-0 after some fine movement which carved open the Al Jazira defence. Following a series of neat passes, the ball was cut back from the left by Mehdi Karimian to Kazemian, who wrong-footed a defender with an excellent first touch before he rolled the ball past Khaseif into the far corner of the net.
Tractorsazi went close to extending their lead five minutes later after a low cross from the right by Karimian was met at the near post by Seyed-Salehi. He poked the ball towards goal but it deflected back to him off the diving Khaseif and looped just over the crossbar.
That miss looked like it might prove costly when Al Jazira pulled a goal back in the 79th minute after a series of neat passes caught out the Tractorsazi defence and allowed substitute Ali Mabkhout to beat the offside trap and poke the ball past goalkeeper Mehdi Sabeti from close range.
But the home side restored their two-goal cushion just over a minute later when Seyed-Salehi broke into the box on the left and crossed for an unmarked Ebrahimzadeh to head home.
Tractorsazi forward Mohammad Ebrahimi was sent off with six minutes left but it failed to take the shine off a memorable first win in the competition for the Iranian club.