Aizawl FC travelled to Iran to play a historic tie of sorts in the picturesque Folad Sahar Stadium against Zob Ahan of Iran. It was the first time an Indian side was playing the final round of AFC Champions League qualifiers, which meant the team who would win Tuesday's match would qualify for the group stage of ACL. It was a big moment for Aizawl too as they were appearing for the first time in a continental competition.
The match had a swift beginning with Zob Ahan taking the lead as early as the 4th minute when M. Rajabzadeh converted from the penalty spot after Zob Ahan were awarded a spot kick as Lalrosanga bought down Tabrizi inside the box. Aizawl though did equalise when a Laldinliana cross was lifted into the net by Romanian Anderi Ionescu.
The first half ended at 1-1.
The second half turned out to be a completely one-sided affair with Zob Ahan scoring two more goals and missing more than a dozen of chances. In the end, the scoreline read 3-1. Let's take a look at the player ratings of Tuesday's game.
M. Mazaheri (6/10): Mazaheri didn’t have much to do during the 90 minutes, he hardly had touches of the ball in the second half. He didn’t have to make any convincing saves and had a very quiet day under the bar. He couldn’t have done much to save the goal he conceded.
V.Mohammadzadeh (6/10): Mohammadzadeh didn’t have much defending to do but looked shaky whenever called upon. However, he did help the team to keep possession of the ball.
G. Gvelesiani (6.5/10): He was one of the most impressive defenders for Zob Ahan even in a game where they didn’t have to defend much. It was his forward runs, snatching and distribution that was actually impressive. He did tend to give away freekicks which could have hurt them had Aizawl taken advantage of those situations.
M Nejadmahdi (6/10): Nejadmahdi had a hot and cold day at the office. He looked very fragile in defence but was equally imposing while attacking or keeping possession of the ball. It was his hesitant defending which allowed Aizawl to equalise.
M Sattari (6.5/10): Sattari was a busy man tonight and made numerous runs down the flanks for Zob Ahan. He worked his socks off for the team, and even in the first half when the team was looking short of ideas they played the ball to Sattari.
M Rajabzadeh (7.5/10): He converted the penalty with ease and gave Zob Ahan the early lead they wanted. Other than that he played a compelling role in midfield, as he built swift fast attacks from the middle of the park.
H Houhamdan (7.5/10): He was a commanding presence in the middle of the park. He was the main reason why most of the Aizawl attacks were broken down in the midfield. He was brilliant while anticipating and distributing the balls.
Mohammadreza Hosseini (7.5/10): Hosseini had a brilliant game. He provided the all-important assist for the second goal. His passing and delivery into the box were simply superb. He also had a couple of chances which he failed to convert.
M Tabrizi (8.5/10): Tabrizi scored two goals and earned the all-important penalty which resulted in the first goal. He was a thorn in the flesh for the Aizawl defence as he chased down everything, hassled and harried the Aizawl defenders for every loose ball. He also created some brilliant chances for his teammates too.
M Fakhreddini (7/10): Fakhreddini worked very hard tonight and played some superb balls into the box. Fakhreddini though was guilty of missing some sitters too. He also saw some of his chances being saved by Avilash Paul.
Kiros (6.5/10): The player who wasted the most number of chances for Zob Ahan was Kiros. Had Kiros converted even half the chances he got, we would have been seeing a tennis score instead of a 3-1.