Tehran, May 21: Spain and Barcelona icon Xavi Hernandez played the final match of his playing career in Al Sadd's 0-2 AFC Champions League defeat to Persepolis on Monday (May 20).
One of the most decorated players in football history, Xavi won 19 honours during his 17-year stay at Camp Nou and also enjoyed great success on the international stage, winning the FIFA World Cup and Euro 2008 and 2012 with Spain.
He joined Qatar Stars League club and former AFC Champions League winners Al Sadd in 2015 to see out his playing days and on Monday he pulled on their jersey for the last time after announcing his impending retirement earlier this month, as he bids to embark on a coaching career.
Before kick-off in Tehran's Azadi Stadium, Xavi was honoured with a framed commemorative jersey and other gifts.
😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭— AFC Champions League (@TheAFCCL) May 20, 2019
He was not able go out with a victory, though, as Al Sadd – who are already assured of a place in the knockout phase of the competition – were downed by goals from Mehdi Torabi and Ali Alipour, though Persepolis bow out anyway.
FT: Persepolis FC 🇮🇷 2-0 🇶🇦 Al Sadd— AFC Champions League (@TheAFCCL) May 20, 2019
Hosts end their campaign on a high after scoring goals on either side of the half with Mehdi Torabi playing a crucial role tonight. Al Sadd had already qualified to the R16 prior to MD6.
#ACL2019 #PERvSDD pic.twitter.com/EhmqwClJIF
In Group C, Qatar's Al Duhail scored a last-gasp equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Al Hilal to join their visitors in the next round, resulting in Esteghlal's campaign coming to a close despite beating Al Ain 2-1 on the road.
In the day's late kick-off, Al Ahli scored a stoppage-time winner to defeat Pakhtakor 2-1 and secure qualification at their visitors' expense, with Abdulrahman Ghareeb's fierce strike doing the damage just moments after Igor Sergeev's equaliser had seemingly sealed a draw.
(With inputs from Agencies)