Beiranvand laments second-half display
Kashima: Persepolis goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand rued his side’s sloppy second-half performance as they slipped to a 2-0 defeat against Kashima Antlers in the first leg of the 2018 AFC Champions League final at Kashima Soccer Stadium on Saturday.
Second-half goals from Leo Silva and Serginho have given the Japanese side the advantage ahead of the return leg in the Islamic Republic of Iran in seven days' time, and Beiranvand felt that Pesrepolis lost their way after a strong opening 45 minutes.
“We started the match very well,” said Beiranvand, whose side were reduced to 10 men after Siamac Nemati was dismissed late on for a second bookable offence.
"We made one or two good opportunities that unfortunately did not lead to goals. We lost our concentration in the second half and conceded two goals.
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“This is what has happened and we can’t do anything about it. Now we have to concentrate to get properly ready for the next match.”
It is not an unfamiliar position for the Iranian champions to be in, having lost first-leg matches away to Al Jazira and Al Duhail on their run to the final.
And having seen his side overcome first-leg deficits in the Round of 16 and the quarter-finals, Beiranvand is confident that they can once again rise to the occasion on home soil on November 10.
“We haven’t lost hope yet and there is no doubt that Kashima are going to have a tough match in Tehran,” he said. “We know very well that we can’t lose our chance of a lifetime in front of our fans in Tehran. We will fight for the championship and I am 100 percent sure that it will happen.
“We promise that we won’t let our fans go back home sad after the second leg. I hope they will fill the stadium again from hours before the kick off. I ask them to give us support and energy from now and I hope something special will happen.
“Kashima benefited from their fans here. I think they got stronger with their supporters cheering. But don’t doubt that they have a difficult match coming.
“We have proved that we can come back and beat teams stronger than Kashima and I hope we can do it again this time.”