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Fighting spirit took Persepolis into AFC Champions League final, says Resan


Doha: Midfielder Bashar Resan said Persepolis FC's fighting spirit sealed them a place in the 2020 AFC Champions League final as the Islamic Republic of Iran side saw off Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr in the semi-final on Saturday.

Despite going behind to Abderrazzak Hamdallah's penalty - which Resan conceded - in the 36th minute and having to play the final 16 minutes of extra time with 10 men at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium, Persepolis persevered as they showed nerves of steel to win the penalty shootout 5-3, with goalkeeper Hamed Lak saving Al Nassr's fourth spot-kick taken by Maicon.

Resan, who redeemed himself for conceding the penalty by sending an inch perfect for Mehdi Abdi Qara to draw Persepolis level in the 42nd minute, paid tribute to the resilience of his teammates.

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“Our target coming into the tournament was to reach the final and we delivered after great performances in all our matches in Doha," said Iraqi midfielder Resan.

“We knew that we would reach the final after defeating (Qatar's) Al Sadd (in the Round of 16) as they, along with Al Hilal (SFC of Saudi Arabia) were the only two teams who could stop us."

Persepolis overcame a slow start to their 2020 campaign, which saw them picking up just one point from two matches, to advance to the final with the Tehran giants recording six wins against a single defeat in Qatar.

They opened their campaign with a 2-0 defeat to Qatar's Al Duhail and a 2-2 draw with UAE's Sharjah back in February but were a completely different side in Qatar as they powered into a second AFC Champions League final in three years, having lost to Kashima Antlers of Japan in 2018.

Semi-final: Al Nassr 1-1 Persepolis (Persepolis win 5-3 on penalties)

The run to the final was built on a solid defensive base and Resan congratulated his teammates.

“Our defence was great as the two goals we conceded (in Doha) were from penalties. Al Nassr are a good team but we played against them with 10 men and they weren't able to score (again)," said Resan.

Resan also hailed the impact of head coach Yahya Golmohammadi, whose half-time pep talk inspired the players to target the win.

“The coach told us at half time that we would be able to win the match. We had great fighting spirit as we were not only representing Persepolis fans but all of Iran.

“The fighting spirit of the players helped us fight for more than 120 minutes. We showed great effort and the solidarity of the players helped us achieve our target.”

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