Al Rayyan end 2021 AFC Champions League campaign with loss to Persepolis


Al Rayyan ended their campaign in Group E of the 2021 AFC Champions League with a 2-4 loss to Iran’s Persepolis in their last match at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa, India, on Thursday.

Persepolis claimed all three points against already-eliminated Al Rayyan to top the group with 15 points and progress to the knockout Round of 16. The Qatari side finished their campaign with two points, one less than India’s FC Goa.

The UAE’s Al Wahda ended up as Group E runners-up with 13 points.

Shahriyar Moghanlou opened the scoring in the 27th minute having earlier hit the crossbar with a header before Ehsan Pahlavan doubled Persepolis’ advantage seven minutes later.

But two goals from Yohan Boli kept Al Rayyan in contention in the second 45 minutes and Persepolis needed further efforts from Hossein Kanani and Isa Alkasir to confirm their fifth victory in six games.

The Iran side had been dominant throughout the opening quarter of the game, with Moghanloo heading Vahid Amiri’s inviting cross against the woodwork having seen an earlier free-kick pushed to safety by Al Rayyan goalkeeper Fahad Younis.

Moghanloo scored when he finished off a rapid break that saw Omid Alishah feed Mehdi Torabi down the left before receiving the return pass and setting up Moghanloo to score from the edge of the area.

Pahlavan made it 2-0 seven minutes later when he twisted and turned on the edge of the area, beating Al Rayyan defender Abdulrahman Al Korbi twice before slamming a low right-foot shot past the goalkeeper.

Al Rayyan, however, rallied early in the second half when Boli netted from eight yards out after Persepolis goalkeeper Hamed Lak was only able to parry Ali Ferydoon’s long-range attempt three minutes after the restart.

By the 68th minute, the Iranians had restored their advantage. The Al Rayyan defence only partially cleared a corner, allowing Torabi to send over a curling centre towards the far post that Kanani headed past Fahad Younis.

Boli struck again 18 minutes from time when Yacine Brahimi’s initial shot was blocked by the Persepolis defence, but they netted a fourth time less than a minute later when Alkasir scored from seven yards out.