Sepahan crash out to Al Sadd
Iranian giants Sepahan paid the price for forfeiting their AFC Champions League quarter-final first leg match as they went out of the competition despite beating Qatari side Al Sadd 2-1 in the second leg.
Sepahan, the 2007 finalists, had won the first leg 1-0, but were then penalised for fielding an ineligible player and the Qatari outfit were thus given a 3-0 victory to eventually run out 4-2 winners on aggregate.
However, Sepahan showed great character in shaking off that disappointment and had Al Sadd reeling after scoring twice in the first-half through Emad Mohammed and Hassan Jafari. They were unable to put away their chances after that, though, and the hosts sealed their place in the last four when veteran Senegalese striker Mamadou Niang scored four minutes from time.
Al Sadd, who were winners of the trophy just once back in 1989, will play Korean side Suwon Bluewings in the semi-finals, who needed extra-time to progress at the expense of another Iranian team Zobahan, winning 2-1 on the night and 3-2 on aggregate.
Mato Neretljak held his nerve to convert an extra-time penalty to seal a 2-1 win at Zob Ahan. With the quarter-final tie finely balanced following a 1-1 draw in Korea two weeks' ago, Zob Ahan gained the upper hand when Mohammad Ghazi volleyed home Igor Castro's knockdown from outside the box in the 50th minute at the Foolad Shahr Stadium.
Suwon equalised in the 76th minute when Yang Sang-min headed home Yeom Ki-hyun's floated cross to send the contest into extra-time.
However, Mohammad Ahmadi pulled Stevica Ristic over in the box in the first additional period to earn his second booking in the space of a minute and Neretljak stepped up to smash the resultant penalty into the bottom corner.