Al Rayyan Post First ACL Victory
Doha: A goalkeeping error from Mehdi Rahmati gifted Al Rayyan a narrow 1-0 victory over two-time Asian champions Esteghlal in their AFC Champions League Group A fixture at Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium on Tuesday.
Al Rayyan forward Kalu Uche profited from a fumble from Rahmati on 12 minutes to give the Emir Cup winners the lead, and despite the Iran champions hitting the woodwork in each half through first Amir Hossein Sadeghi and then Boubaker Kebe, they were unable to avoid a second consecutive 1-0 defeat in the competition.
After their shock Matchday One defeat in Tehran to Saudi side Al Shabab, Esteghlal remain bottom of Group A while Al Rayyan are back amongst the contenders after recovering from their 3-2 loss to Emirati side Al Jazira last month.
An even opening spell had seen both sides exchange efforts from range before the game exploded into life a little after 10 minutes play.
A seemingly routine catch, following a high and hopeful ball from Al Rayyan’s Argentinian Lucho Gonzalez, was fumbled by Esteghlal captain Rahmati and dropped kindly for Nigerian forward Uche who could scarcely believe his luck as he nodded into an open goal.
The visitors tried to atone for their goalkeeper’s error but on 33 minutes they were ruing their fortune once more as Sadeghi’s shot from close range pinballed back off Al Rayyan goalkeeper Oumar Barry’s leg onto his chest, and then rebounded onto the crossbar and away to safety.
With five minutes of the half remaining Rahmati partially redeemed his earlier mistake with a good save from Cho Yong-hyung who latched on to a header from Abdulrahman Al Korbi and sent a sliding volley on goal that was well held by the sprawling goalkeeper.
After the restart the back-and-forth nature of the game resumed with first Uche going within inches of latching on to Gonzalez’s through ball and doubling his and Al Rayyan’s tally on the hour mark.
And just 10 minutes later, Mohammad Ghazi waltzed through the Al Rayyan defence before laying on a chance for Kebe from just outside the area, with the Burkina Faso striker forcing Barry to touch his driven low shot onto the post.
As Esteghlal piled forward, gaps at the back emerged and with five minutes remaining a mistake by Sadeghi let in forward Yakubu, but as his shot threatened to creep over the line a sliding clearance from Hanif Omranzadeh cleared the danger.
In the dying minutes of the game even Rahmati pushed forward, staying up field for a series of corners, but it was to no avail and the 2013 semi-finalists fell to their second defeat of the new campaign.