AFC - Sepahan opened their AFC Champions League account with a resounding 4-0 victory over their Uzbekistan opponents on Tuesday night.
Farhad Kazemi's charges, who controlled the game throughout, had to wait until the last minute of the first half to make their superiority tell, and then finished off their opponents with a further three goals in a 23-minute spell.
The opening goal of the game came after the home side had spurned several good opportunities to score, and was enthusiastically received by the home fans, who were beginning to wonder when the breakthrough would come.
Saeid Ramezani played a long ball over the advancing Neftchi defenders, who appealed in vain for offside, into the path of Moharram Navidkia, the Sepahan and Iran Olympic team captain, who took the ball forward before passing it to Mahmoud Karimi who notched from close range.
The hosts doubled their lead on 57 minutes when the ubiquitous Navidkia again put Karimi through to slip the ball beyond the advancing Neftchi keeper.
Five minutes later, the Iranian Pro League champions got their third of the night, this time Karimi turning provider to send Seyyed Salehi's through. His cool finish gave the visiting keeper no chance.
Two minutes later, Kazemi, was expelled for leaving the technical area, but Sepahan made another swift assault in the 68th minute when Navidkia's shot came off the post and Salehi pounced on the rebound to make it 4-0.
"We knew that if scored first we would win," Karimi, Sepahan's speedy forward, said after the game. "They were slower than us and we could easily penetrate from the blind spots of their defence."
Yuriy Sarkisyan, Neftchi's coach, was downcast after the game, saying: "I'm afraid I wasn't acquainted enough with Sepahan. They are in the middle of their league and it's obvious they would be readier than us.
"I think the first two goals were offside," he added, "but Sepahan moved more than we did and played much better in the second half."
Kazemi, in spite of achieving a good result, was hardly ecstatic at the performance of the team, saying: "I'm satisfied with the result but not with the technical aspect of the team. After the fourth goal the team let things go without any reason." The 2003 AFC Coach of the Year added that he felt the first goal was offside.
Sepahan's next match is on February 24 when they travel to Kuwait to take on Al Arabi. Neftchi, meanwhile, play Saudi giants Al Ittihad at home on the same day.