Esfahan: Sepahan coach Zlatko Krancjar was delighted with the second-half performance of his side as they kept alive their hopes of reaching the AFC Champions League knockout stage with a convincing 4-0 win over Qatari side Al Sadd at the Foolad Shahr Stadium on Tuesday.
A goalless and largely uneventful first half exploded into life after the interval with Mehdi Sharifi curling home on 46 minutes and then doubling the lead on 55 minutes.
Substitute Xhevahir Sukaj added a third goal just eight minutes later and an own goal from Al Sadd defender Ibrahim Majed deep into stoppage time completed the rout.
“I congratulate my players for this victory,” said the Croatian. “They listened to my instructions and they played according to our plans throughout the match.
“We wanted to neutralise our opponent’s plans and our midfielders did well in helping to create the four goals.”
“Our first target was to win and our second was to increase our goal total. We were lucky to score four times while our opponents were not able to create even a chance.
“I have always wanted my players especially Xhevahir Sukaj and Mahdi Sharifi to use their shooting skills. And now I think that Sharifi deserved to be called up for the Nntional team,” he added.
Al Sadd coach Lhoussaine Ammouta was far less happy with the result, which he felt was due to the inexperience of his players.
“We knew that tonight’s game would be tough especially as we do not have as many experienced players in our squad,” said the Moroccan.
“It was a heavy defeat and our young and inexperienced players couldn’t perform against the experienced Iranian team.
“We will definitely try to make up for tonight’s result and I believe that the situation of this group will be decided next week. We were not expecting to concede four goals but the defeat was natural due to the lack of experience in our squad.”