April 16, 2024

Group E: Persepolis FC (IRN) 0-2 Al Nassr (KSA) [VIDEO]

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AFC – Tehran, Al Nassr marked Cristiano Ronaldo’s debut in the AFC Champions League™ with a 2-0 away victory against Persepolis at Azadi Stadium in Group E of the 2023/24 edition on Tuesday.
The hosts suffered an early blow as experienced forward Mehdi Torabi had to be stretched off inside the opening ten minutes following an injury, being replaced by Shahab Zahedi.
The first test to Persepolis goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand came in the 20th minute when his defence failed to properly clear the ball, allowing it to fall to right-back Sultan Al Ghannam who headed it back across the box for Cristiano Ronaldo who powered a header from close range, drawing a spectacular save from the Iran international keeper.
Portuguese winger Otavio thought he had opened the scoring for Al Nassr ten minutes before the break as he was set-up by Ronaldo, but the flag had gone up and the goal was ruled out for offside.
With five minutes left until the halftime whistle, Marcelo Brozovic carried the ball forward past the halfway line and towards the edge of the Persepolis box, spraying a pass out on the right for the onrushing Sadio Mane who squared it towards Ronaldo at the far post, but the Al Nassr captain could not make contact with the ball.
The turning point in the match arrived six minutes into the second half when Persepolis midfielder Milad Sarlak received his second booking of the night following a late challenge on Ronaldo, to leave his side with ten men for the remainder of the game.
Within just ten minutes, Al Nassr took advantage of their numerical superiority as Brozovic exchanged a one-two with Ronaldo, receiving the return pass inside the Persepolis box on the left and squaring for Abdulrahman Ghareeb who slotted home the opener for the visitors in the 62nd minute.
Ghareeb turned from scorer to provider in the 72nd minute, setting up the overlapping left-back Mohammed Qassem who powered it from a narrow angle into the roof of Beiranvand’s net to double Al Nassr’s lead and put the game beyond doubt.
Substitute Khalid Al Ghannam nearly made it three in the final minute of the game as he picked up Sami Al Naji’s pass and attempted an effort on goal, but Beiranvand was able to make the save.
Al Nassr’s next game sees them welcoming Istiklol to the King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh, while Persepolis will look to make amends when they travel to Doha to face Al Duhail who had drawn 0-0 with Istiklol earlier on Tuesday.