Al Ittihad beat Sepahan in Asian Champions League

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Saudi Arabia's Al Ittihad beat Iranian visitors Sepahan 4-0 in Group D of the Asian Champions League in Jeddah on Tuesday.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:06 IST
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A first half hat-trick from Marzouk Al Otabi was the highlight of the evening as Saudi Arabia's Al Ittihad beat Iranian visitors Sepahan 4-0 in Group D of the Asian Champions League in Jeddah on Tuesday. The victory takes the Saudi side back to the top of the Group D table, two points ahead of their vanquished opponents. Reigning Saudi league champions Al Ittihad were looking for revenge against their Iranian counterparts Sepahan when the two teams met in an AFC Champions League Group D clash in Jeddah on Tuesday evening. Al Ittihad's long unbeaten run in all competitions was halted by the Iranian side two weeks ago as they were beaten 3-2 in Esfahan, a result that dropped the Saudi champions into second place in the group, one point adrift of Sepahan. It didn't take long for the home side to get their noses in front. A fierce shot from Manaf Abu Shgair after ten minutes hit the bar and appeared to bounce well over the line before rebounding out but Marzouk Al Otabi - following up - forced the ball home, making a penalty appeal against a handling offence by Sepahan defender Mohamad Reza Mahdavi redundant. Three minutes later, Al Ittihad were two up and again the goalscorer was Al Otabi. Played in superbly by Mohammed Noor, he steadied himself and shot home past Sepahan goalkeeper Kamil Susko. Eight minutes before the break, Al Ittihad were celebrating a third goal and for Al Otabi a first half hat-trick. This time a fast-flowing move down the right left him with a little work to do but the home player did what he had to do, cutting inside a defender and curling the ball into the roof of the net. A similar move in the same area should have seen the Saudi side go four-up five minutes later but Noor - provider of the second goal - was unlucky to see his delicate chip come back off the woodwork. Any hopes Sepahan had of mounting a revival were snuffed out 12 minutes after the interval when Al Ittihad scored their fourth. The ball moved swiftly from Noor to Al Otabi who laid it on for Editko Vieira Deandrdc to stroke the ball into the net. Four could have been five but Noor missed a marvellous chance to get on the scoresheet 17 minutes from the end. So, 4-0 it finished - a convincing win which sees the Saudi side sweep back to the top of Group D in impressive style. (AP)

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