Kashima Antlers win 2018 Asian Champions League
100,000 crowded Azadi Stadium, but Kashima Antlers defence was solid11 November 2018 | FT Editor
Japan's Kashima Antlers held on for a 0-0 draw in the second leg of the Asian Champions League Final against Persepolis in Tehran on Saturday night, after winning the first leg at home 2-0 the week before.
Few chances came Persepolis' way in the match mostly via Ali Alipour, but he was unable to convert any, much to the frustration of the estimated 100,000 fans who crammed the stadium. Alipour had the first chance of the match in the opening minutes of the game, but fired wide from inside the box, and that set the pattern for much of the night. Persepolis were unable to break down Kashima's disciplined defensive line.
The overriding feature of the game was the enormous crowd in the Azadi Stadium which was described as a "wall of noise". Paul Williams wrote in his preview that the 'cathedral' of Azadi Stadium would be the home team's greatest chance of securing a win.
The crowd also included 500 women, who were allowed to attend a first class match in Tehran for the first time in 37 years.
The female fans were separated from male fans, and were thought to be relatives of players or members of women's teams, but it is nonetheless seen as a positive move.
"It has been our dream for decades. We are always excluded from public happiness and excitement. We have protested and fought for it. Basically, it’s women’s first demand," said a spokesperson for Open Stadiums.
Towards the end of the game, Kashima looked the most likely to score.
Kashima's win was a J.League win for the second consecutive year in the Asian club championship. Urawa Red Diamonds won last year (and in 2007).
Women were allowed in to a top-flight match in Iran for the first time in 37 years
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