Moghanlou, Abbaszadeh, Diabate among Strikers Who Lit Up 2021 ACL Group Stage

Moghanlou, Abbaszadeh, Diabate among Strikers Who Lit Up 2021 ACL Group Stage

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – As the 2021 AFC Champions League group stage (West) is over, looks back at five strikers who lit up the competition.

Some are AFC Champions League veterans, some made their debut in the competition, some have been eliminated while others will continue to challenge for the title of the 2021 AFC Champions League top scorer, but what they all have in common is that their 26 goals combined were some of the finest highlights of the first part of the competition.

Cheick Diabate - Esteghlal FC
Back in the AFC Champions League for the second season running, Diabate was in a more clinical form than his one goal in five matches a year earlier. The Malian forward's penalty against Al-Shorta on Matchday Six sealed Esteghlal's qualification to the Round of 16.

The 33-year-old missed a penalty six minutes later that could have been his sixth goal in as many games, but as things transpired, the former Bordeaux striker's five goals were enough for Esteghlal to progress to the next round, giving him an opportunity to continue his pursuit of the top scorer award in the knockout stage.

Mohammad Abbaszadeh - Tractor FC
Tractor made its way into the 2021 AFC Champions League Round of 16 off the back of being one of the three best sides to come in second place in the group stage, largely down to the two braces Abbaszadeh scored on Matchday One against Pakhtakor and Matchday Six against hosts Sharjah FC.

The first of the two braces rescued a point for Rasoul Khatibi’s men - a fiery 3-3 draw in which Abbaszadeh helped Tractor back into the game with a late equalizer. His second double guaranteed the Tabriz-based side's progression as it reached 10 points by the end of the group stage.

Against Sharjah, Abbaszadeh demonstrated impressive positioning as the first goal fell to him in the penalty area and pressured by four defenders, he volleyed in. The second goal was a perfect break in which captain Saman Narimanjahan played him in, with the former Persepolis striker tapping in to seal the three points.

Shahriyar Moghanlou - Persepolis FC
Back in Iran from a brief stint at Portugal’s Santa Clara, Moghanlou contributed four goals and an assist as the 2020 AFC Champions League runner-up charged through to the Round of 16, winning five games from six.

The level of anticipation shown during his side’s 3-1 defeat of Al-Rayyan on Matchday Two was astounding as he managed a brace that kept Persepolis in the driving seat in Group E - the first goal being a diving header and the second an exquisite jumping volley, both early in the second half.

Another exceptional side to his game was his ability to spot his teammates’ in better positions than he is. In the 4-0 defeat of FC Goa, Isa Alkasir managed to score after the masterful Moghanlou received and expertly touched the ball into the former’s path.

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