With the work that had just begun, the stadium was reminiscent of the Santiago Bernabéu. Tarpaulins covered the stands of the Azadi Stadium, which seats more than 78,000 spectators but was empty due to a sanction imposed by the Iranian club since 2021. The first part of the game was as cold as the atmosphere. Both teams tested the game without taking any risks and without looking for the opponent’s goal.
Al Nassr took control of the ball against a Persepolis team that lost Torabi to injury after 4 minutes. The Saudis applied high pressure, winning several balls back, although the final pass never arrived in good condition. The first big chance came with Cristiano Ronaldo’s first appearance in the 19th minute. A cross from Mané was rejected by the Persepolis defense and the rebound went to Al Ghanam, who extended a header for Cristiano. His shot, very centrally, was stopped by the goalkeeper.
The clock was still ticking and there was hardly any rhythm to the game. The Iranians waited without firing a single shot back. Nawaf touched the ball more often with his feet than with his hands in the first third. In the 35th minute, the referee disallowed a goal from Ghareeb after a pass from Cristiano, who was in the wrong position. In fact, Ghareeb, along with Mané, was the most active player in an Al-Nassr side that abused centers and lacked quality in the final pass in the first 45 minutes.
The second half started with the locals pushing onto the opponent’s field and wanting to attack, something they hadn’t done in the entire first half. However, the first to warn would be Ghareeb, who is once again the Saudi club’s most dangerous player. The game changed in the 51st minute when Milad was sent off for receiving a double yellow warning after kicking Cristiano.
This ended Persepolis’ reaction and its attempt to control the ball. However, Zahedi made it 1-0 after a lateral foul, which went well over the crossbar. One move later, Al Nassr’s first goal came, from Ghareeb of course. Cristiano filtered a lovely pass to Brozovic, who put it behind the Saudi winger to score the first goal, but not before making contact with a defender. The visitors opened the can.
After the first scoring, the dominance of the guests was even greater. Persepolis barely touched the opponent’s territory and 10 minutes after the 0-1 score, the second goal came, also from a player on the left wing of Al Nassr. This time it was Qassem, the winger, who removed the cobwebs with a pass from the ever-present Ghareeb and broke through the Beyranvand goal. His shot, dry and powerful, made the 0-2 insurmountable for a decimated Persepolis.
When the game was over, Al Nassr and especially Cristiano, at least in terms of the result, continued to try to increase the difference and take advantage of Persepolis’ numerical inferiority. There was a moment of uncertainty in the 89th minute as a possible Laporte penalty was examined that would reopen the game. There was nothing there. While the referee consulted the VAR, Cristiano was substituted after a gray game, which he slightly distorted with this “crack” pass to Marcelo Brozovic.
Al Nassr won a game that was characterized by its boredom, but which helped to collect the first three points on its way to conquering Asia, which will not be easy.