Iranian Persian Gulf Pro League clubs Esteghlal and Persepolis put in drastically different performances on Matchday Two of their 2018 AFC Champions League groups, with the former notching up a valuable 1-0 victory against Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia and the latter conceding a 1-3 defeat to Qatar's Al Sadd.
Persian Gulf Pro League runner-up Esteghlal of Tehran depleted by injured and banned players went out of the 2017 AFC Champions League after suffering its heaviest defeat in the history of the competition at the hands of UAE’s Al Ain.
Marat Bikmaev might have been peripheral throughout the game between Uzbekistan’s Lokomotiv and Iranian Persian Gulf Pro League club Esteghlal, but until three minutes from time it looked like the forward’s clinical strike would be enough to secure all three points for Andriy Miklyaev’s team.
Makhete Diop’s 89th minute header secured all three points for the UAE's powerhouse Al Ahli as the 2015 AFC Champions League finalist handed Iranian Persian Gulf Pro League Club Esteghlal an agonizing 2-1 defeat in their opening meeting in Group A of the 2017 campaign on Monday.
Former semi-finalists Esteghlal returned to the AFC Champions League Group Stage following a three-year hiatus after overcoming Qatar’s Al Sadd 4-3 on penalties following a goalless stalemate at the Azadi Stadium on Tuesday.
The biggest rivalry in Iranian football – and possibly in Asia – is the match between Tehran giant Esteghlal and the Isfahan-based outfit Sepahan. It is always a bitterly contested match, and Khosrow Heidari has experienced both sides of it.