Abu Dhabi: Al Jazira snatched an important last-minute goal to edge out Islamic Republic of Iran's Persepolis 3-2 in the 2018 AFC Champions League Round of 16 on Monday.
The Iranian side looked to dominate from the start but Al Jazira of the United Arab Emirates succeeded in keeping them at bay for most of the first half, but Persepolis forward Ali Alipour broke the hosts' resilience in the 42nd minute, heading in Vahid Amiri’s cross into the top right corner to put the visitors in front.
Al Jazira boss Henk ten Cate started the second half by replacing midfielder Yaqoub Al Hosani with forward Ahmed Al Hashmi, and the Dutchman's strategy worked right away when Al Hashmi won a challenge and supplied a pass to Ali Mabkhout who dribbled through the defence and struck a powerful effort that hit the back of the net in the 52nd minute.
The visitors added a second through Romarinho, who received Mabkhout's pass and quickly advanced into the area before slotting home in the 77th minute.
Persepolis responded instantly from the spot as Godwin Mensha converted on his second attempt after reacting quickest to Ali Khaseif's save from his penalty kick six minutes from time.
Just as the Iranians thought they had come back from Abu Dhabi with a 2-2 draw, defender Khalifa Mubarak won it for Al Jazira with a last-gasp goal, directing his header from Mbark Boussoufa's free-kick into the back of the net in the final minute of added time to give the Emirati side a slight advantage going into the second leg.
Persepolis, however, will be encouraged by their two away goals going into next week's return leg in Azadi Stadium in Tehran.