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Ergashev: Team effort secured Istiklol amazing AFC Champions League result against Al Hilal 

Riyadh: Head coach Mubin Ergashev did not hide his joy following FC Istiklol's stunning 4-1 win against Al Hilal SFC in Group A of the 2021 AFC Champions League on Saturday.

Istiklol bounced back from going behind to Bafetimbi Gomis' opener with Manuchehr Dzhalilov and Manuchehr Safarov scoring a brace each to power the Tajikistan side past the Saudi Arabian champions.

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With Shabab Al Ahli Dubai defeating AGMK FC 3-1 in Saturday's other tie, Group A is wide open with Istiklol - on seven points - ahead of Al Hilal. Shabab Al Ahli are third with four points, as are AGMK.

Ergashev (pictured below) praised the group effort of his team, saying he couldn't explain the reasons behind what is easily the biggest result of this season's AFC Champions League so far.

“We analysed the previous match (which Al Hilal won 3-1) and worked on the mistakes,” said Ergashev in the post-match press conference.

“We never expected this result but the entire team - whether players or the technical staff - were great today. This shows that anything can happen in football.”

“There are no specific points that I can highlight which led to this victory. Al Hilal went into the match with perhaps overconfidence after winning the previous tie and this helped.

“At the beginning of the competition, I said that we will fight in order to qualify and I’m still keeping my promise,” Ergashev said. “Today’s match proved that not only big teams can win but new teams can also achieve victories and compete to qualify.”

The victory means Istiklol can indeed qualify with Shabab Al Ahli up next on Tuesday, followed by AGMK on Friday, with only the group winners assured of advancing to the Round of 16.

2021 AFC Champions League: FC Istiklol 4-1 Al Hilal SFC

Al Hilal head coach Rogério Micale said his team must draw lessons from the defeat in order to fight for the group ticket to the knockout stage.

“We should forget this match and try to take all the lessons from it,” said Micale. “We must remain calm and focused because there is still everything to fight for in the remaining matches.”

“We took the lead and it was a good start for us,” said the Brazilian. “We lost concentration (after that) and conceded three goals in a short period of time and at the end, it was an unacceptable defeat.

“We are still in contention to qualify but as I've said before, there are no easy matches. We must get good results in the last two matches in order to achieve our target.”

Al Hilal, the 2019 AFC Champions League winners, face AGMK on Tuesday before concluding the group stage against Shabab Al Ahli three days later.

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