24 january 2019
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Henry Winter

Alan Hansen



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Tehran: Last year’s leading scorer Asamoah Gyan got off the mark in the 2015 edition of the AFC Champions League but inaugural winners Al Ain were again unable to pick up three points as they drew their second consecutive game with a 1-1 tie against Naft Tehran on Tuesday.
After a goalless first half, Naft defender Siamak Kooroshi scored within seconds of coming off the substitute’s bench on 49 minutes but Gyan, who netted 12 times on the continent last year, levelled for the visitors 10 minutes later.
Naft, who lost to Pakhtakor in last week’s Matchday One tie, were often indebted to their goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand, who enjoyed a stellar showing against their Emirati guests, although the Iranian club are still without a win in their debut campaign.
And while the home side edged possession of the ball throughout long periods of the first half, it was the visitors who created most of the clear cut opportunities with many of them centering around 2014 AFC Foreign Player of the Year Gyan.
Dalic concedes superb Naft goalkeeper denied Al Ain win
After just 10 minutes the Ghanaian striker had his first sight of goal as he spun on the ball 10 yards out but was denied by Beiranvand who dived to his left and forced the ball behind.
And the Naft goalkeeper had to be on his toes just three minutes later when a miskick from Mehdi Shiri saw the ball land at the feet of Ibrahim Diaky inside the penalty area but his half-volley was acrobatically turned over by Beiranvand.
For Naft, shots on target were few and far between in the first period, despite their attacking intent, although Iman Mobali did have a freekick on target that Khalid Eisa needed to punch away to safety.
Gyan, though, continued to look the biggest threat, and he almost turned provider on 33 minutes as he curled in a deft cross but Mohamed Abdulrahman, who had raced onto the ball in space, lifted his header narrowly over the crossbar.
And just before half-time, Gyan had the game’s best chance thus far as he out-paced both centrebacks and surged into the penalty area only to see the outstretched boot of a spread-eagled Beiranvand prevent his low shot from finding the net.
The stalemate, though, lasted for just four minutes of the second half as Kooroshi, who had only just entered the field for Amin Hajomohammadi, ghosted into the penalty area to head home Vahid Amiri’s long throw-in to put the hosts in front.
Naft’s joy was not to be long-lived, though, as a handball by Shiri inside the penalty area just before the hour mark gave Gyan another chance at ending Beiranvand’s defiance, and this time the goalkeeper was given no chance by the powerfully struck spot kick.
Amiri went close to putting the home side back in front with 15 minutes remaining from distance but Eisa tipped over the rising effort from the Iran international.
And Mobali then went within inches from seeing a freekick from distance creep in at the far post but despite the renewed attacking vigour from the hosts as the minutes ticked down, Naft were unable to find a second breakthrough and the sides shared the points.



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