It took just six minutes of nimble aggression for the Iranian league champions Piroozi to wrap up the game against Sharjah in their opening Champions League Group B match at the Azadi Stadium in Iran yesterday. Three goals around the half hour mark left Sharjah dazed and confused, and with no hope of recovering. The Piroozi captain and former Bayern Munich midfielder Ali Karimi opened the scoring in the 27th minute, Alireza Vahedi Nikbakht made it two with a neat shot to the corner of the net and Hadi Norozipori added a third from a glancing header on 33 minutes.
Toni Oliveira's men pulled one back through Meshal Abdul Wahab from a free-kick that was badly misjudged by the goalkeeper Mahdi Vaezi, who apparently lost sight of the ball when Saif Salim went up to the ball with a Piroozi defender in the 54th minute. By then though, the home side had done enough to get their campaign off to a flying start. A goal was imminent from the onset for the Iranians, who enjoyed both territory and possession and Karimi broke the deadlock with a powerful volley when the ball rebounded to him after Rashid Ahmed had blocked a shot from Vahedi Nickbakht.
Piroozi doubled the lead three minutes later when Karimi dummied a left-hand cross from Norozipori and Nickbakht hooked the ball into the net. Provider then turned scorer with a neat piece of work from Norozipori at the near post to make it three. Sharjah will at least draw comfort from the fact that they held the Iranians to a goalless second-half. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org