Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Tabriz: Tractorsazi Tabriz returned to winning ways on Wednesday when goals from Augusto and Saeid Aghaei earned the Iranians a 2-0 victory over Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor in Group C of the 2016 AFC Champions League.
Augusto (Augusto César dos Santos Moreira) netted in the 59th minute before Aghaei sealed his team’s success eight minutes from time as Amir Ghalehnoy’s side avenged their loss in Tashkent on Matchday Three.
The win means the Iranians move onto nine points from four games, retaining top spot in the group while Pakhtakor remain on four points.
Tractorsazi had opened their AFC Champions League campaign with back-to-back wins over Al Jazira of the United Arab Emirates and put their hopes of a place in the knockout phase back on track following their defeat against the Uzbeks prior to the international break.
“Our good condition today was because of the support of our fans," said Ghalehnoy. "We played well in the second half when we introduced Soroush Rafiei.
“We were very tough defensively and we didn't give any clear chances to Pakhtakor. Now we have nine points and I think we have passed 90% of the qualification route. The players gave a great performance today."
The home team had the bulk of possession and territorial dominance in the first half, but despite being on top Tractorsazi created few clear-cut opportunities in the opening 45 minutes.
Mehdi Kiani headed just over the bar in the 26th minute following a long throw into the six-yard box by Sina Ashoori while, with four minutes remaining in the half, Aghaei pulled his shot wide of the goal after a quickly taken free kick from outside the penalty area.
With half time fast approaching, Farzhad Hatami headed over the bar from Augusto’s cross from the left, causing Pakhtakor goalkeeper Nikita Ribkin few problems.
After a disappointing first half, however, Tractorsazi upped the pace in the second period and soon claimed the reward they deserved.
Augusto (pictured) should have put his side in front three minutes after the restart when he beat the offside trap only to fire his shot well wide of goal, but in the 59th minute the Iranians finally went ahead.
The Brazilian allowed substitute Soroush Rafiei’s low angled pass from just inside his own half to run across his body before hitting with an expertly struck shot that gave Ribkin little chance.
Six minutes later, Augusto could have doubled Tractorsazi’’s lead but for a fine close range save by Ribkin, and further attempts were squandered by Hatami and Bakhtiar Rahmani.
Pakhtakor rarely threatened, with only Adnan Orahovac’s header of Sherzodbek Karimov’s corner going close and, with eight minutes left, Tractorsazi sealed the win when Aghaei side-footed Hatami’s cross in from six yards out.
"It was a good game and I believe that Tractorsazi were lucky,” said Pakhtakor coach Numon Khasanov. “We will try to play better football in our next match.
“Tractorsazi have a very good chance to qualify for the next stage. Tractorsazi's substitute players made the difference today. They are a big team with great fans.
“They were different in the second half today, and that was because of the support of their fans.”
Photo: Lagardère Sports