Doha, Qatar: Al Gharafa frittered away their only possible chance for redemption this season when they squandered a two-goal lead at half time to go down 2-3 to Zob Ahan in the AFC Champions League play-off on Tuesday.
A victory against the Iranians at their own ground could have handed Gharafa a place in the Group A of the continental championship alongside Al-Wasl, Al Zawraa and Al Nassr, and the Cheetahs were well on their way having gone 2-0 up at halftime through goals from Ahmed Alaaeldin and Mahdi Taremi.
But Zob Ahan scored thrice in the second half to book their place while Gharafa were left to rue their missed chance.
Al Gharafa took the lead in the 21st minute after midfielder Abdelaziz Hatim chested down a long pass and set up fellow Qatar international Ahmed Alaaeldin whose first time left footer found the top corner.
Alaaeldin turned the provider in the 36th minute, laying off the ball to Mehdi Taremi who slid home from the edge of the penalty box to double Gharafa’s lead.
But Zobahan returned from the half-time break a determined side and pulled a goal back within a minute when Nigerian striker Christian Osaguona’s header beat Gharafa goalkeeper Youssef Hassan.
Zob Ahan drew level in the 63rd when Amir Motahari rose above Lucas Mendes to head home.
The Iranian side completed their miraculous comeback in the 79th minute through Mohammed Nejad Mehdi.