Rostov – It was the final match day of last season when Rostov had a chance to claim first place in the Russian Premier League. They won their last match but unfortunately for them, CSKA Moscow won as well to clinch first place in the 2016-17 Russian Premier League.
Supporters of Rostov felt the pain of being so close to making the impossible possible but they had every reason to be proud of their squad for defying the odds week after week.
Rostov fans now have a reason to celebrate after defeating Ajax 4-1 at home in the return leg of the UEFA Champions League play-offs on 24 August.
Sardar Azmoun put Rostov in the lead three minutes after the half hour mark when he leaped high in the air to head a cross into the corner of the net, causing the Rostov fans to erupt.
One week earlier Rostov left Amsterdam with a 1-1 draw and they knew they were coming home with all the momentum.
Azmoun, the Iranian striker from Gonbad Kavus, continues to show why his name comes up in transfer window rumors.
Going into the interval, Rostov held a 1-0 lead but more importantly, they led 2-1 on aggregate.
Midfielder Aleksandr Yerokhin scored to make it 2-0 seven minutes into the second half and eight minutes later it was the dangerous Ecuadorian Christian Noboa that made it 3-0.
The Rostov fans could feel it: they were headed to the group stage of UEFA Champions League. Dmitry Poloz scored in the 66th minute to make it a 4-0 lead for the home side.
Fyodor Kudryashov committed an unnecessary foul in the penalty area late in the match and received a straight red card. Davy Klassen converted the consolation penalty for Ajax but Rostov won 4-1 with authority and 5-2 on aggregate.
After the draw, it was revealed that Rostov has been grouped with Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, and PSV Eindhoven in Group D.
A very interesting draw and it will be great to see what the Russian runners-up can do against the German giants, the red and blue stripes of Madrid, and the champions of Netherlands.
Iranian football fans will surely be excited to see how Sardar Azmoun and Saeid Ezatolahi will fare on the biggest stage in European football. TM fans do not need to wait very long as the first match of the group stage will take place on 13 September in Bavaria at Allianz Arena in Munich.
No one expected Rostov to finish second place in Russia last season but maybe they can find a way to make it to the knockout stage of the 2016-17 UEFA Champions League.