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AFC: Saudi Arabia's Al-Ittihad defeats Iran's Esteqlal 2-1

Press TV - Hicham Aboucherouane's last-gasp goal allows al-Ittihad to come back from the dead to beat Iran's Esteqlal 2-1 in the AFC League opener.

The Iranian side took the lead 13 minutes from time when substitute Arash Borhani directed a bullet header past al- Ittihad's goalie, Mabrouk Zaid, at the Prince Abdullah Al Faisal Stadium in Jeddah on Wednesday.

The Saudi team then poured forward, finally breaching the Esteqlal defense in the 87th minute. Egyptian striker Emad Motaeb blasted in the equalizer when Noor chipped a hopeful ball into the box from the right flank.

The Blues were shocked when the Moroccan striker Aboucherouane fired a 30-metre screamer past Vahid Talebloo deep into stoppage time to seal the victory for al-Ittihad in the Group C opener.

"My team was successful and the most important thing is that we kept the three points at home. Do not forget that my team was the better side in the match," said Al-Ittihad Argentinean boss Gabriel Calderon.

"There is no need for excuses. We had several scoring chances but we were unlucky not to find the net," he added. "Esteghlal closed down the game and in football it is very difficult to win against a team playing with such tactics."

Esteqlal coach Amir Qalenoie, however, blamed the Japanese referee for his team's loss.

"The referee was the main reason for our defeat tonight," Qalenoie said.

"If you look back on the match you will notice that he made a big mistake when he cancelled out one of our attacks for offside after the Al-Ittihad equalizer," he explained. "I think that the decision was a mistake."

Both Esteqlal and al-Ittihad currently lead the standings in their countries' leagues.

Esteqlal is competing with Saudi Arabia's al-Ittihad, UAE's al-Jazira and Qatar's Umm-Salal in the AFC Champions League Group C, dubbed the group of death.

... Payvand News - 03/13/09 ... --

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