AFC – TEHRAN, Persepolis midfielder Bashar Resan credited winning mentality for his side’s 3-1 win over Al Duhail in the second leg of the 2018 AFC Champions League semi-final on Monday.
The Iranian side came from 2-0 down on aggregate to record a 3-2 victory, with goals from Jalal Hosseini, and Godwin Mensha either side of a Sultan Al Brake own goal helping them turn the tie around at Azadi Stadium.
Coming into the home second leg with a slim one-goal disadvantage, Persepolis found themselves another goal down after 33 minutes as Al Duhail captain Karim Boudiaf capitalised on a poor defensive clearance.
Branko Ivankovic’s men went into the dressing room 2-0 down on aggregate, but with a critical 45 minutes ahead of them, they came back onto the pitch with renewed drive.
Skipper Hosseini halved the deficit on the night, paving the way for a memorable comeback, before Al Brake succumbed to pressure from Resan to convert into his own net and Mesha scored the goal that sealed semi-final qualification.
“In the first half, we made a mistake in defending a set-piece and conceded, so that put a lot of pressure on us”, said the Iraqi international.
“But we are winners; Persepolis is a team with a winner mentality, and we channeled that out in the second half. We were all determined to get back into it, worked really hard and took the chances that came our way.”
Monday’s result ended a nine-match winning run for Al Duhail, who had been aiming to register a record tenth win in a single AFC Champions League campaign.
Having dominated the group stage and put eight goals past Al Ain over the two Round-of-16 legs, Al Duhail could only score once against Persepolis in Doha and looked a far cry from the side that cruised through the earlier stages.
“You could see Al Duhail were not as dominant as they have been throughout the earlier stages of the competition. We were successful in stopping them.
“Fans were a source of strength for us, they pushed us forward even when we went behind and made Azadi a difficult place for opponents to come to. I would like to thank them.”
Persepolis made it back-to-back AFC Champions League semi-finals despite losing some of their biggest stars, without being able to replace them, and Resan believes team effort made up for the talent shortage.
“It was difficult for us as we lost some players and were unable to replace them due to the transfer ban on the club. So, we had to rely on promoting players from within.
“I was playing through an injury I sustained with the national team and one of my teammates was playing through injury too, but with everyone’s efforts and hard work we were able to make it through.”