Rostov – Iranian football fans were very excited for a Third Round UEFA Champions League Qualifer between Russian Premier League Runner-up FC Rostov and Belgian Pro League Runner-up RSC Anderlecht on 26 July.
Saeid Ezatolahi was in the starting lineup for the first time as a member of Rostov and what a game for him to make his first appearance as a starter.
Algerian midfielder Sofiane Hanni put Anderlecht in front after three minutes when a corner kick from Steven Defour was dummied to perfection by defender Sebastian De Maio and froze the Rostov defenders. Hanni one-timed in a low shot past Rostov keeper Soslan Dzhanayev to give Anderlecht a 1-0 lead.
Thirteen minutes later a free kick from Ecuadorian midfielder Christian Noboa curled over the wall and was saved nicely by diving Anderlecht keeper Davy Roef but Iranian midfielder Saied Ezatolahi pounced on the rebound to tie the match 1-1.
The goal for Ezatolahi was his first as a member of Rostov and only his second appearance. Iranian football fans are hoping there will be more to come this season from the young prodigy.
The match went into the interval tied but seven minutes after the restart, Anderlecht re-gained the lead through Youri Tielemans.
Hanni started the move with left back Fabrice N’Sakala that led to Tielemans firing a shot from just outside the penalty area that Dzhanayev had no chance of saving.
Rostov equalized once again at the hour mark when forward Dmitry Poloz perfectly placed a penalty kick in the lower right corner. Keeper Roef came close but it was a text book perfect penalty.
Iranian striker Sardar Azmoun did not start in this match but was brought on in the 56th minute for Aleksandr Bukharov.
The match ended 2-2 and the return leg will be played on 3 August in Belgium. Anderlecht definitely feel as though they are favored heading home with two vital away goals in hand.