Esteghlal FC have cruised into the 2020 AFC Champions League Round of 16 with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Group A leader Al Ahli Saudi FC in matchday six on Wednesday.
Knowing that a two-goal margin win would secure their place in the Round of 16 alongside Al Ahli and ahead of Al Shorta, Esteghlal pressed hard from the outset and opened the scoring in the 29th minute when Mehdi Ghaedi, assisted by Farshid Esmaeili on the edge of the box, drilled a powerful drive that nestled into the bottom corner despite Al Owais’ best efforts to save the shot.
Seven minutes before the break, Esteghlal went 2-0 ahead as Ghaedi sent a cross from the right flank into the far post for Ali Karimi who evaded his marker and converted a header.
After the restart, Esteghlal were quick to cement their place in the Round of 16 with a third goal, as Karimi supplied a chipped cross from the edge of the penalty area for Cheick Diabate, who guided his header past Al Owais to make it 3-0.
In Group B, Pakhtakor FC sealed top spot after defeating Shahr Khodro FC 1-0.
Pakhtakor’s qualification to the Round of 16 from Group B was confirmed after Al Hilal failed to name the required 13 players for their match against Shabab Al Ahli and thus were deemed to have withdrawn from the competition.