AFC - Tractor FC of Islamic Republic of Iran got their first win of the campaign as they overcame 10-man Air Force Club of Iraq 1-0 on Matchday Four of the 2021 AFC Champions League Group B on Friday.
The result sees Tractor climb to six points, keeping their qualification hopes alive, while Air Force Club freeze at two points as their search for a first win and a first goal continues.
Tractor came racing out of the blocks and were in the lead within two minutes. Mehdi Tikdarinejad dribbled his way into the box from the right flank and fed Peyman Babaei who tried to convert first-time, but his shot was parried by goalkeeper Fahad Taleb into the path of Tikdarinejad who swept home his side’s opening goal.
Air Force Club suffered a blow as defender Ehasn Haddad was stretched off at the half-hour mark to be replaced by Sameh Saeed.
Things went from bad to worse for the Iraqis eight minutes before the break as centre-back Maytham Jabbar took down Tractor’s Babaei as he went through on goal, earning a straight red card.
Buoyed by their numerical superiority, Tractor started the second half on the front foot and had their first big chance within five minutes as Saman Narimanjahan supplied a through ball to Mohammad Abbaszadeh whose left-footed effort from 25 yards out was saved by goalkeeper Taleb.
Air Force Club showed a lot of fight and could have equalised just after the hour-mark as substitute Shareef Abdulkadhim exchanged quick passes with Humam Tareq who set him up with just the goalkeeper to beat but Tractor’s Mohammad Reza Akhbari was able to smother Abdulkadhim’s shot from six yards out.
Substitute Saif Rashid thought he had brought the Iraqi side level with 15 minutes to go as he received a pass from fellow sub Jefferson Colazos and curled a shot from inside the box that was beyond the reach of goalkeeper Akhbari, but Tractor’s Abolfazl Razzaghpour produced a goal-line clearance to deny Air Force Club.
Abdulkadhim had a golden chance to find the back of the net in the 82nd minute after Saeed moved into space down the right and squared a ball that was poorly cleared by the Iranian defence to fall for the number 17 inside the box, but Abdulkadhim fluffed his lines, sending his effort high and wide.
Tractor face Uzbekistan's Pakhtakor on Monday while Air Force Club play UAE's Sharjah.