Abu Dhabi: Islamic Republic of Iran’s Persepolis will face Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal in the 2017 AFC Champions League semi-finals after beating Al Ahli 3-1 (5-3 on aggregate) at Mohamed bin Zayed Stadium in the quarter-final second leg on Tuesday.
Two late penalties gave Persepolis the victory as the Iranians showed great spirit, as they had done in their first-leg two-goal comeback, in Abu Dhabi.
Persepolis got off to a flyer as Ali Alipour latched onto a long pass, outmuscling his marker before applying a placed finish into the bottom corner to give his side the lead five minutes into the game.
The Iranians’ fortunes suffered a blow when midfielder Kamal Kamyabinia received a straight red card after a challenge on Waleed Bakshwan in the 12th minute.
Al Ahli capitalised on their one-man advantage and grabbed an equaliser when winger Saleh Al Amri curled one in from the edge of the area in the 52nd minute.
With the 1-1 result favouring Al Ahli on away goals, Persepolis piled the pressure in pursuit of a winner and Al Ahli’s defence cracked under pressure.
First Al Ahli captain Motaz Hawsawi handled the ball in an attempt to clear off his line and the referee awarded a penalty for Persepolis and sent Hawsawi off.
Substitute Godwin Mensha converted the penalty-kick to restore Persepolis’ lead and Mahdi Taremi added a second from the spot in added time to put the win beyond doubt.