Tehran Times – DOHA, Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor came from behind to defeat Esteghlal football team 2-1 in the 2020 AFC Champions League Round of 16 at Al Janoub Stadium on Saturday.
Pakhtakor qualified for the quarter-finals for the first time since 2009.
In the 32nd minute, Esteghlal midfielder Ali Karimi beautifully curled the ball into the back of the net from the free-kick.
Two minutes before the end of the first half, Pakhtakor found their equalizer. Sardor Sobirkhodjaev set-up Alijonov to cross from deep at the far post where Dragan Ceran was first to the ball, guiding his header past Hossein Hosseini to draw Pakhtakor level.
In the absence of COVID-19 stricken coach Shota Arveladze, it was down to his Dutch assistant Pieter Huistra to deliver the halftime talk, and his words set up Pakhtakor for a red hot start to the second half as they added their second within a minute of the restart.
A swift and progressive exchange of passes in the opposition half allowed Sobirkhodjaev to find Erin Deriyok with plenty of space down the right and the Swiss striker drilled a half-volleyed effort from the edge of the box into the bottom corner to give Pakhtakor the lead for the first time in the game.
Esteghlal looked to respond and by the 54th minute, they had a major goal scoring chance when Mehdi Ghaedi cut inside from the left and whipped a cross into the six yard box for Diabate who poked it goalward, but Suyunov was well positioned and clutched into the ball to keep his side in front.
Pakhtakor controlled possession for long stretches of the second half and booked a match in the next stage.