Persepolis seal 2020 AFC Champions League final berth

Persepolis seal 2020 AFC Champions League final berth
Abderrazak Hamdallah
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Updated 04 October 2020

Persepolis seal 2020 AFC Champions League final berth

Persepolis seal 2020 AFC Champions League final berth
  • The tournament’s matches in the east are yet to be announced

DOHA: Hamed Lak produced a diving save off Maicon Rocque as Persepolis beat Al-Nassr 5-3 on penalties to reach the final of the Asian Champions League for the second time in three years on Saturday.

Both teams had played out a tense 1-1 draw after 120 minutes of action forcing the match into the tie-breaker at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium.

But it was the Iranians who emerged as the top team in Asia’s west zone as they scored off all their five penalties, while Saudi giants Al-Nassr watched in agony from the sidelines as their Brazilian defender Rocque’s shot, his team’s fourth, was saved by Lak, leaping to his right.

A few hours before the match Persepolis were dealt a blow when the Asian Football Confederation banned their star striker Issa Alekasir for six months for a “discriminatory gesture” while celebrating his goal against Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

In addition to the ban, the 30-year-old, who scored four times in his side’s last three matches in Doha and was chiefly instrumental to their progress to the semis, was also fined $10,000 for his slant-eyed gesture, considered a serious racial offense.

“The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Disciplinary and Ethics Committee has banned Issa Alekasir, of Persepolis FC, from taking part in any kind of football-related activity for six months for violating Article 58.1 of the AFC Disciplinary and Ethics Code (2019 Edition),” the AFC said in a statement.

“The ban will take effect immediately,” the continental body added.

Article 58.1 states “anyone who offends the dignity of a person or group of persons through contemptuous, discriminatory or denigratory words or actions concerning race, skin color, gender, disability, language, age, physical appearance, religion, political opinion, wealth, birth or any other status, sexual orientation, or ethnic, national, or social origin has committed an offense.”

On Saturday, however, Al-Nassr, who were hoping to reach the final for the first time, couldn’t make the most of Alekasir’s absence or the fact that Persepolis had lost Ehsan Pehlevan just before half-time after he received his second yellow card.

The Saudis were first to score though, Abderrazzak Hamdallah foxing goalkeeper Lak with a “Panenka” goal in the 36th minute following Bashar Resan’s foul on Khalid Al-Ghannam.

But Persepolis needed only six minute to draw level, Abdi Mehdi producing an excellent header past Al-Nassr goalkeeper Brad Jones off a cross from Resan.

Luck came to Lak’s rescue immediately after the break as Hamdallah produced a brilliant free kick only for the ball to thud into the crossbar after the goalkeeper was thoroughly beaten.

Both teams had their share of chances before Lak came up with his decisive save in the shootout to put his team against a team from Asia’s east, who are yet to be determined.

The event, which was halted in February following the coronavirus outbreak, resumed in a bio-secure bubble in Doha last month with the matches packed into a tight schedule and the knockout phase doing away with the double-legged format.

The tournament’s matches in the east are yet to be announced.


FIA launches probe into fiery Grosjean crash at Bahrain Grand Prix

Updated 03 December 2020

FIA launches probe into fiery Grosjean crash at Bahrain Grand Prix

FIA launches probe into fiery Grosjean crash at Bahrain Grand Prix
  • The Halo device is widely considered to have helped save Romain Grosjean’s life

SAKHIR, Bahrain: Motor racing chiefs announced on Thursday the launch of an investigation into Romain Grosjean’s fiery Bahrain crash, saying the forensic probe would take “around six to eight” weeks to complete.
The French Formula One driver somehow wrenched himself free from his blazing Haas car with just burns to his hands and a broken left foot after a collision with Daniil Kvyat on the first lap of Sunday’s Grand Prix. He left hospital on Wednesday.
In the immediate aftermath of the shocking smash there was widespread praise for modern safety measures in the sport, but also concern over what F1’s motor sport managing director Ross Brawn described as “unpredictable” failures.
The International Automobile Federation (FIA) said it had “initiated a detailed analysis of Romain Grosjean’s accident at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix.”
The FIA’s safety director, Adam Baker, said: “With so much data available in Formula 1, it allows us to accurately determine every element of what occurred and this work has already begun.
“We take this research very seriously and will follow a rigorous process to find out exactly what happened before proposing potential improvements.”
The FIA probe will look at a range of factors including Grosjean’s helmet, safety harness, headrest, in-car extinguisher and the Halo cockpit protection.
The Halo device is widely considered to have helped save Grosjean’s life as his car was sliced in two after careering into a barrier.
“The ‘halo’ saved the day and it saved Romain,” Brawn said on Sunday.
“There was controversy in developing it initially, but there can’t be any doubt now, so hats off to those who pushed for the introduction.”
But he added: “The fire is worrying. The split in the barrier is worrying and the barrier coming apart, but we can be happy with the safety of the car – that got us through today, but things failed in an unpredictable way.
“We haven’t seen anything like that for a very long time, but the barrier splitting normally results in a fatality.”
At the circuit new safety measures have been introduced to reduce the risk of a repeat crash at this Sunday’s Sakhir Grand Prix.
Two rows of tires wrapped in a conveyor belt have been installed in front of a reconstructed guardrail at the exit of Turn Three.
Several drivers expressed serious concerns at the failure of the barrier and the manner in which it was punctured.
In other changes to the circuit, where this weekend’s Grand Prix will be using the shorter “outer loop’, a kerb has been removed at Turn Nine – which was used as Turn 13 last Sunday – and a tire barrier in the approach to that corner has been extended and enlarged to four rows in depth.
Grosjean left hospital on Wednesday and in an Instagram post he highlighted the professionalism of a marshal with an extinguisher and the FIA doctor in the following Safety Car, who was on the scene very quickly.
“I told him he was a hero,” said Grosjean.
“He went into the fire as much as he could to save me. I felt Ian’s hands pulling me over the barrier and I knew I was safe... life will never be the same again.”
Grosjean is resting and healing from burns at a hotel in Abu Dhabi where he hopes he will be fit enough to race in the season-closing race next weekend.