Iran’s Persepolis football club advanced to the AFC Champions League final for the first time ever with a 1-1 draw with Al Sadd of Qatar on Tuesday, winning 2-1 on aggregate.
Persepolis had previously defeated Al Sadd twice and lost once to the Qataris in the current season.
In the match held in Tehran’s Azadi Stadium in front of 90,000 spectators, the tournament top scorer Baghdad Bounedjah silenced the stadium, finishing off a first time shot with aplomb past the outstretched arms of Alireza Beiranvand in the 17th minute.
Shortly after, Persepolis put the visiting team under pressure to find the back of the net.
Four minutes into the second half, Siamak Nemati volleyed in Godwin Mensha’s cross from the left to make it 1-1 and put his side back in front on aggregate.
Persepolis goalkeeper Beiranvand shone in the 86th minute and produced a brilliant save to unmarked Xavi Hernandez’s header.
Persepolis, who appeared in their second successive semi-finals, had already defeated the UAE’s Al Jazira and Al Duhail of Qatar in the last 16 and quarter-finals respectively.
No side from Iran have ever won the title, meanwhile, with runners-up finishes for Sepahan in 2007 and Zob Ahan in 2010 the closest the country has come to continental glory.
The Iranian Reds will face either Suwon Samsung Bluewings from South Korea or Japan’s Kashima Antlers.