Jeddah: Sepahan coach Zlatko Kranjcar believes that his side were very much in their quarter-final second leg match against Al Ahli of Saudi Arabia until the dismissal of goalkeeper Reza Mohammadi and the resulting penalty converted by Victor Simoes which saw his side collapse to a 4-1 defeat.
With the tie in the balance after a goalless draw in the first leg in Esfahan, Mohammadi conceded a penalty and received a red card for a foul on Taisir Al Jassim in the 27thminute.
Simoes converted and Amad Al Hosni went on to score twice as Al Ahli ran out convincing winners to set up a semi-final clash against Jeddah rival Al Ittihad.
It marked the second straight year that Iranian league champions Sepahan had gone out in the last eight and Kranjcar felt that the key moment was the penalty incident.
"In the first 30 minutes of the match we had three good chances to score and if we had scored from any of those chances it would have been a different result. But we couldn't score and we paid the price," said the Croatian.
"The penalty and the red card changed the game for us and our performance dropped in the second period as we were playing with 10 men and we had only one man up front. Therefore, Al Ahli converted their chances unlike us."
"In the pre-match press conference I said that the match will be very hard for us and it was indeed hard as Al Ahli put on a good performance and they showed great capabilities."