Al Wahda End Persepolis’ 4-match Unbeaten Run to Boost AFC Champions League Knockout Hopes
Al Wahda ended Persepolis’ four-match unbeaten run in the Asian Champions League with a 1-0 win on Monday that raises their hopes of qualifying for the knockout phase as Group E winners. Slovenian forward Tim Matavz’s fifth-minute strike proved decisive in the match in Margao, Goa, and took the Emirati club to 10 points from five matches, two behind Iranian giants Persepolis. The result means that both teams will have to win their sixth and final group phase match to ensure qualification in a format where only the five group winners and three best second-placed teams make the round of 16.
Abu Dhabi-based Al Wahda were beaten 1-0 by Persepolis in the first week of the tournament but on Monday the Iranians were caught napping early in the match as Matavz raced into the penalty area and struck the winner with a powerful shot to the roof of the net.
Persepolis hardly had a close look at the Al Wahda goal in the first half and almost conceded their second on the night, but goalkeeper Hamed Lak made a fine save after Omar Khribin had attempted to score with an audacious shot from inside his own half.
The Iranians did have a few chances in the second half but Hossein Kanani headed wide and Ehasan Pahlavan saw his shot crash onto the crossbar.
Al Wahda next play FC Goa on Thursday, while Persepolis take on Qatar’s Al Rayyan to decide the group winners.