0922 GMT March 22, 2018
Brazilian striker Kiros put the Zob Ahan in front 10 minutes into the game, the-afc.com reported.
Giorgi Gvelesiani’s header was nodded on by Morteza Tabrizi to beat goalkeeper Amine Lecomte, but the forward who had scored twice in the playoff saw his headed effort come off the cross bar and into the path of Kiros who headed home from point-blank range.
The Isfahan-based club defended resiliently and was successful in keeping Al Duhail attackers at bay, until the 74th minute when Youssef Msakni’s shot was spilled by goalkeeper Rashid Mazaheri onto the path of Karim Boudiaf, who drove home the rebound to equalize for the Qataris.
One minute later the defensive midfielder got his second of the night from a powerful header after Nam Tae-hee’s cross from the corner.
The Korean playmaker was his side’s creative force once more, finding Msakni with a cross that was swept home to round the scoring with five minutes to go and seal an important victory at the start of the campaign for Al Duhail which travels to the UAE to face Al Wanda in its next game.
Zob Ahan, meanwhile, welcomes Lokomotiv to Iran in Matchday Two.
Reds, Blues in action
After achieving its best AFC Champions League performance ever in reaching the semifinals last year, Persepolis begins its 2018 campaign by hosting Uzbekistan’s Nasaf in Group C at Azadi Stadium today.
Branko Ivankovic’s Persepolis produced some fine displays en route to the semifinals, where the Persian Gulf Pro League champion ultimately fell to Al Hilal, which had also eliminated the Tehran-based side in the 2015 Round of 16.
Persepolis was unbeaten at its imposing home stadium last year, while the previous time the Iranians hosted an Uzbek opposition resulted in a 2-1 victory over Bunyodkor in 2015.
Nasaf, meanwhile, is appearing in its third AFC Champions League but have never managed to get beyond the group stage, exiting early in 2015 and 2016.
The Qarshi-based side has also won just once in six attempts, although that was on its only previous visit to Iran when it defeated Tractorsazi Tabriz 2-1 in April 2015.
Meanwhile, Iran’s Esteghlal will also kick off its campaign with an away clash against Al Rayyan of Qatar at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium today.
The Group D encounter will start Al Rayyan’s eighth campaign in the competition but, despite coming close last year, the Doha team has never advanced beyond the group stage.
Esteghlal did manage to make it out of the group stage last year, before a 6-1 defeat to Al Ain in the second leg of the Round of 16 brought Blues’ continental dream to an abrupt halt.
The Tehran side has played Al Rayyan six times in the past and has come out on top on four occasions, with the last time being a 2-1 victory in the 2014 group stage.
Al Rayyan scored eight goals in three home games last year, while one of its best performances came in a 3-1 home victory over Esteghlal’s city rivals Persepolis when star man Rodrigo Tabata netted twice.