Second-half Derdiyok strike takes Pakhtakor into ACL last eight

Eren Derdiyok struck two minutes into the second half to earn Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Esteghlal from Iran in Doha on Saturday - and a place in the quarter-finals of the Asian Champions League alongside Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli.

The Swiss international drove the ball under Esteghlal goalkeeper Hossein Hosseini, giving his side the lead after team mate Dragan Ceran cancelled out Ali Karimi’s opener for the club from Tehran.

It will be Pakhtakor’s first appearance in the last eight of the competition since 2009.

Al Ahli of Jeddah earned a quarter-final spot with a 4-3 penalty shootout win over Shabab Al Ahli Dubai from the United Arab Emirates earlier in the evening after the two sides remained drawn at 1-1 after extra time.

Shabab Al Ahli Dubai had taken the lead in the 28th minute when Azizjon Ganiev’s strike from distance was deflected past Al Ahli goalkeeper Mohammed Al Owais.

But Omar Al Somah’s goal from a penalty nine minutes after the restart, awarded when Salman Muwashar was upended in the area by Ganiev, deservedly pulled Al Ahli level.

“It was a difficult match because Shabab Al Ahli Dubai performed well today,” said Al Ahli captain Hussain Abdulghani.

“Either team could have won right until the final minute.”

The two remaining round-of-16 fixtures for the western section of the competition will be played on Sunday, when Iran’s Persepolis take on Al Sadd from Qatar before Saudi Arabian duo Al Nassr and Al Taawoun meet later in the day.

The draw for the quarter-finals, which will be played on Wednesday, will take place on Monday.

Matches in the 2020 edition of the competition are being played in Doha in a centralised format due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with teams in the eastern half of the draw scheduled to face off from mid-November. The final will be played on Dec. 19.

Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong, Editing by Hugh Lawson