The 2018 AFC Champions League finally came to a close with Kashima Antlers finally lifting the coveted title. It was perhaps the most prominent title missing from the Kashima cabinet but Go Oiwa’s side made sure that they do not return home empty-handed. On a difficult night for both the teams, some player stepped up whilst some fell short. We take a look…
A. Beiranvand (6)
With the home support behind him, all Beiranvand had to do was to make sure he didn’t concede a goal throughout the night. On his part, the Persepolis custodian did his job. Unfortunately, he was let down by his goal-shy teammates on the night.
S. Khalilzadeh (6)
Defensively, Khaliizadeh was solid. For the most part, he stopped Kashima from approaching Beiranvand’s goal. However, he did get into a scuffle with the opposition manager during the final few minutes and was perhaps lucky to escape a booking.
S. Jalal Hosseini (6)
Hosseini kept things tight at the back as usual. However, the game was to be decided by Persepolis’ attacking instinct, which was severely lacking on the night.
M. Ansari (6)
Ansari was the only casualty in the otherwise solid defence. The centre-back was sacrificed for Ehsan Alvanzadeh midway through the second half.
A. Mosleh (6)
Mosleh was part of the quartet who did their job perfectly, by keeping Kashima at bay. The full-back would be disappointed that his side couldn’t find that elusive goal tonight.
K. Kamyabinia (6)
Started as a creative midfielder, Kamyabinia was expected to drive at the Kashima defenders. However, neither could he find that perfect opening nor the perfect pass to help the Persepolis attack.
A. Hemati (6)
Hemati looked good whilst on the pitch. Unfortunately, he was substituted in the 64th minute due to an injury.
A. Nourollahi (5)
Starting in the centre of the midfield, Nourollahi was asked to man the channels between attack and defence and provide support for both. Defensively, Nourollahi was solid. But all he and Persepolis was lacking on the night was a good attacking instinct.
B. Resan (7)
Resan was perhaps the unluckiest player on the pitch and should’ve scored in this game. The midfielder put in a great shift put fell just short of the target. Much like the rest of the team. He did look promising whenever the ball was in his feet.
A. Alipour (5)
A lot was asked of Alipour on the night. The forward was expected to lead Persepolis from the front and provide with some much-needed goals. However, his finishing let him down throughout the night, with several chances falling at his end. Persepolis had almost double the number of shots as Kashima. Unfortunately, none of them ended up in the back of the net.
G. Mensha (6)
Mensha was asked to lead the line with Alipour but the Nigerian suffered a fate similar to his strike partner. Marshalled expertly by Gen Shoji and Seung-Hyun throughout the night and couldn’t find a decent opening.
M. Rabiekhah (5)
Rabiekhah came in place of Hemati with half an hour to go. He did look promising with the ball in his feet but lacked the end product.
E. Alvanzadeh (5)
Alvanzadeh was called upon by the manager to replace Ansari in defence. He did his job well and stopped Kashima’s counters during the final minutes of the game.
K. Sun-Tae (7)
Sun-Tae was the reasons the Antlers didn’t fall behind in the first half. The South Korean veteran was fully aware of his surroundings and made some decent stops to keep Persepolis at bay.
D. Nishi (6)
The full-back should’ve definitely done better dealing with Persepolis’ wide men. He was even booked into the final few minutes of the match. However, at the end of the day, Nishi and his defensive partners did their job and will return home with the title.
J. Seung-Hyun (7)
Seung-Hyun was rock-solid in defence throughout the match and helped keep the pressure on the opposition attackers. The South Korean did let in the attackers on a few occasions but luckily they couldn’t convert.
G. Shoji (8)
The best player of the match, Gen Shoji did his job on the night expertly. He had one task at hand- to stop Persepolis from scoring; which he did with quiet aplomb. The 25-year-old dealt with Mensha and Alipour quite easily.
S. Yamamoto (6)
Yamamoto was solid on the night defensively. A case can be made of his attacing contribution but tonight was all about that Kashima defence. He helped keep the cleansheet which lead to Kashima winning the trophy.
S. Doi (6)
Kashima’s best chance of the match fell to Shoma Doi, who should’ve put the tie to bed. He couldn’t unfortunately and the Antlers had to deal with immense pressure late on.
K. Misao (6)
Misao provided the extra cover to the Kashima defenders and looked to play the attackers whenever the opportunity arose.
L. Silva (7)
The experienced Leo Silva was everywhere for the Antlers on the night. The 32-year-old was running the channels for the J-League side and did his job brilliantly.
H. Abe (7)
The bright spark in the Kashima side, Hiroki Abe had a fantastic game. The 19-year-old was absolutely everywhere in attack, dazzling with his skill. However, his biggest contribution was his work ethic as he raced up and down the flank throughout the night.
Serginho has been an absolute revelation in the Kashima attack ever since he signed for them. The Brazilian wasn’t up to his usual antics in this game.
Y. Suzuki (6)
Another Kashima forward who has been on fire in the AFC Champions League is Yuma Suzuki. The 22-year-old has been lethal in attack and was rightly awarded the MVP award for the tournament. However, he did suffer tonight with his side concentrating on their defensive duties.
K. Anzai (5)
Anzai was thrown in the game by Oiwa to shake things up and he did his part.
R. Nagaki (5)
Nagaki entered the fray in place of Suzuki to try and find the crucial goal.
T. Kanamori (N/A)