AFC - Islamic Republic of Iran’s Saipa secured their place in the 2019 AFC Champions League playoffs after beating Minerva Punjab of India 4-0 on Tuesday.
Arash Rezavand opened the scoring for Saipa through a penalty in the eighth minute before Arman Ramezani doubled their tally in the 24th minute. The Central Asians sealed the win with two more goals in the final 20 minutes of the match.
Next Tuesday, Saipa will travel to Doha, Qatar to play Al Rayyan in the playoffs.
Saipa, who won the Iran Pro League in 1994, 1995 and 2007, had the best of starts when they were awarded a penalty in the eighth minute and Rezavand stepped up to convert the spot-kick at the Shahr-e Qods Stadium.
In the 24th minute, striker Ramezani etched his name on the scoreboard, which prompted Minerva to make a change in the 40th minute with head coach Sachin Tanaji Badadhe bringing in Amandeep Singh but the Iranians held on to their two-goal lead into the break.
Midfielder Moinuddin Khan replaced defender Roland Bilala in the second half, while Saipa made two changes of their own, sending on Reza Jafari and Anub Hajmohammadi in the 59th and 62nd minutes.
Minerva’s hopes of making a comeback were dashed when Samuel Sarfo made it 3-0 with his effort in the 73rd minute, before Rezavand scored his second of the night eight minutes later.