Iranian football fans defied COVID-19 restrictions and poured into the streets across the country on Saturday night to celebrate Persepolis football club’s victory over Saudi Arabia’s Al-Nassr team in the AFC Champions League semi-final match.

In the Saturday match, penalty shoot-outs decided the winner of the single-match semi-final game between the Iranian and Saudi sides in Qatar’s capital, Doha.

The Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium, empty of spectators in line with health protocols related to the coronavirus, hosted the two teams under a clear autumn sky.

After a 1-1 draw in 120 minutes, the game went into the shoot-outs. In the penalties, all the takers came out content except for Al-Nassr’s central back Maicon, whose ball was blocked by Persepolis’s Hamed Lak. Ali Shojaei netted home the last penalty for Persepolis.

Iran’s representative finished the semi-finals penalty marathon 5-3.

Persepolis will now wait for the winner of the games in East Asia.

The final is scheduled to be held on December 19.

Sports Minister Masoud Soltanifar also praised Persepolis for making the Iranian nation happy by defeating Asian football powers.

“At the time of unfair and cruel sanctions against the great nation of Iran, the valuable champions of Iran shined in AFC Champions League and made people happy by advancing to the final match,” he said in a message.

Iranian Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Abbas Salehi also, on his Twitter page, congratulated Persepolis for advancing to the Asian Champions League.

Mahmoud Vaezi, the chief of staff of the President’s Office, expressed congratulations to the team on his Instagram page.

“I congratulate our dear people on the proud victory of our country’s representatives in the match against Saudi Arabia’s Al-Nassr team and their advancing to the finals of the AFC Champions League,” he said.

He added the victory was secured on the back of relentless efforts by Iranian players and is seen as a national triumph.

Meanwhile Government Spokesman Ali Rabiei also congratulated Persepolis on their victory.

“Today, Persepolis zealously won against a team that had set foot in the field backed by a huge sum of dollars and psychological warfare,” he said in a tweet.

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