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Analysis - Esteghlal v Zobahan

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Tehran: After failing to convert their dominance to goals last week, Esteghlal were ruthlessly clinical in a 3-1 win at home against Zobahan, as they sealed their passage into the AFC Champions League West Region quarter-finals.

AFC Champions League 2018 Esteghlal FC (IRN) vs Zobahan FC (IRN) Azadi Stadium 15 May 2018 Tehran Iran-11

Mame Baba Thiam was the hero on the night; his treble of strikes eased Esteghlal past their Iran Pro League rivals, who could only find the back of the net once, after the damage had been done.

Prolific Thiam too hot to handle

Mame Thiam joined Esteghlal last February, penning a permanent deal with the Blues after terminating his Juventus contract with mutual consent. Until that point, he had been stuck in a perpetual cycle of short-term stints at European clubs, so Iran provided a fresh opportunity for the Senegalese forward to jump-start his career.

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Three of those shots beat goalkeeper Mohammad Rashid Mazaheri, while Thiam also won four duels and created one chance for his teammates.

Nejadmahdi presence sorely missed

After Zobahan centre-back Mohammad Nejadmahdi picked up two yellow cards in the first leg last week, manager Amir Ghalenoei was always going to struggle to replace the 25-year-old at the heart of his defence. Giorgi Gvelesiani, who started in midfield and scored the winning goal in the first leg, deputized in the heart of his side’s defence in Tehran.

His partner in the centre of defence, Vahid Mohammadzadeh, made five successful clearances, but could not win a single tackle. The graphic above shows Gvelesiani (#5) and Mohammadzadeh (#3)’s clearances (blue) and tackles won (green) throughout the 90 minutes.

Inability to test Rahmati costs Zobahan

Unlike last week, Zobahan only managed a measly two shots on target over 90 minutes, one of which was a speculative effort from long range that surprisingly went in after goalkeeper Mehdi Rahmati was caught off-guard.

The map above shows Zobahan’s shots on target (green), as well as their efforts that failed to hit the mark (red).

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