Hosseini strike secures winning start for Persepolis

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Michael Church
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By Michael Church

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Veteran Iranian defender Seyed Jalal Hosseini struck the only goal as last year's beaten finalists Persepolis made a winning start to their Asian Champions League campaign with a 1-0 victory over Al Wahda in Goa on Wednesday.

Hosseini's side-footed shot from just outside the area was enough to see off the team from the United Arab Emirates and give the Tehran-based club a winning start in Group E.

Yahya Golmohammadi's side lost in the final last year to South Korea's Ulsan Hyundai, and they were also beaten in the 2018 final.

FC Goa, one of five clubs hosting group matches in biosecure bubbles in the western half of the competition, are due to face Qatar's Al Rayyan later.

Meanwhile, Pakhtakor from Uzbekistan shared a dramatic 3-3 draw with Tractor FC from Iran in Group B in Sharjah.

Former Fulham winger Ashgan Dejagah gave Tractor the lead with a 53rd-minute penalty and Mohammad Abbaszadeh doubled their advantage three minutes later.

But Pieter Huistra's side fought back in the final 21 minutes, Dragan Ceran reducing the deficit before Sharof Mukhitdinov smashed a shot into the top corner.

With eight minutes remaining Hojmat Erkinov slid a shot past Mohammad Reza Akhbari to put Pakhtakor in front, only for Tractor to claim a share of the points with Abbaszadeh's penalty.

Hosts Sharjah will take on Air Force Club from Iraq in the group's later game.

Matches in the western half of the group phase of the Asian Champions League will take place until April 30, with the five group winners and three best-placed runners-up advancing to the last 16.

Teams in the east of the continent are scheduled to play their group matches in June and July, with the knockout rounds beginning in September.

(Reporting by Michael Church, editing by Ed Osmond)