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Esteghlal 1-1 Umm Salal

26 April 2009 No Comment

Source: www.the-afc.com

Umm Salal became the second Qatari side to deal a blow to Iranian hopes of ACL success when they held Esteghlal to a 1-1 draw but coach Gerard Gili admitted they were fortunate to come away unbeaten.

The draw at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran, which comes a day after Al Gharafa thrashed Piroozi 5-1, all but extinguishes Esteghlal’s hopes of reaching the last 16 and means a similar result in either of Umm Salal’s final two matches will see them progress.

Arash Borhani, the leading scorer in the Iranian league, broke the deadlock just before half-time but Esteghlal were pegged back when Saoud Ghanem equalised with 20 minutes left.

“We just need one more point to qualify and I’m hopeful to get it in our remaining two matches,” continued Gili, who was Ivory Coast’s assistant coach during the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

His counterpart, the beleaguered Amir Ghalenoei, said the result was harsh on his team but that they were ultimately to blame for it.

“We didn’t play badly and we didn’t deserve to draw, (but) we made schoolboy errors,” he said.

Ghalenoei, who has seen Esteghlal’s chances of winning the Iranian title go from odds on to odds against in the last month, blamed the defeat on off-the-pitch problems.

“We’ve had a lot of problems in the last 40 days and this is not Esteghlal’s greatest period,” he added.

Esteghlal now need to win both remaining matches and hope that the teams above them slip up to have any chance of making the knock-out stages.

Ghalenoei said another reason for their poor form is a lack of experience.

“Esteghlal have been away from the AFC Champions League for six or seven years and so we don’t have much experience at this level,” he said.

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