April 13, 2024

Ghalenoei: Pakhtakor win eases pressure

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GhalenoieeAFC – ESFAHAN, Sepahan coach Amir Ghalenoei admitted the 2-0 victory over Pakhtakor has alleviated some of the pressure he felt his team were under in the AFC Champions League.

Headers from Ibrahima Toure and Mohsen Bengar inside the space of two second-half minutes saw the Iranians come out on top in a dour Group C encounter at Foolad Shahr Stadium as they secured their first win in this season’s continental competition.

“We were under a lot of pressure due to our recent lacklustre performance in the ACL but today’s win helped us get away from the pressure we were feeling,” said Ghalenoei.

“This was a good victory and our next priority in the continental tournament is to play offensively against Al Shabab to maintain this good form.

“We should produce a higher quality game against Al Shabab to make sure we can gain points from that match.

“We didn’t play as we can in the first-half but after the substitutions I made, our playing system altered to 4-3-3 and it was a well thought-out plan to devise more attacks.

“Had we missed out on today’s points, we would naturally have had no more realistic chances of qualifying to the next phase. We kept our hopes alive.”

Pakhtakor head coach Miodrag Radulovic was disappointed with the way his side conceded both goals from corners due to slack marking.

“I’d been trying to drill it into my boys’ mind to man mark at free-kicks and corner kicks but they didn’t keep that in mind and we consequently conceded both goals from corners,” he said.

“We also had two or three good chances in the first-half, which we didn’t take advantage of.”

Radulovic admitted that the result means Group C is now wide open with any of the four teams capable of making it through to the last 16.

“It’s not easy any more to predict which teams will qualify to the next round,” he added.

“I can say the Group C qualification picture has become less clear. It will come down to the last round of games to see which teams make it into the next round but I hope Sepahan will qualify together with my team.

“The teams are very closely matched. As I said, we will have to wait until the last day to know who the qualifying sides will be.”