An action-packed round of the Persian Gulf Pro League.
Week 20 of Persian Gulf Pro league was an eventful one at both ends of the table. This week had eight games as we witnessed new league leaders in place and a relegation battle which is hotting up as the season goes on, it is beginning to get exciting. We summarise this week’s games as we highlight the ‘Games of the Week’ and ‘Players of the Week’
Games of the week:
Esteghlal 1-0 Peykan
Azadi Stadium hosted a cagey affair between Esteghlal and Peykan. The Blues have had a decent run of form recently and needed a win to keep the pressure on Naft Tehran and Foolad at the helm of the league. On the other hand, Peykan are slowly getting sucked into a relegation battle and were desperate for the 3 points. The game saw former Esteghlal favourites Mehdi Rahmati and Jlloyd Samuel returning to face their former club.
Shahbazzadeh celebrates his winner for Esteghlal
This was an equal and quiet game, both teams had their chances. Peykan had put the ball in the back of the Esteghlal net but the referee disallowed it because of a supposed foul on the Esteghlal goalkeeper. Peykan players were furious as replays showed that the referee may have made the wrong decision. The game was won in dying seconds of the added minutes when on form striker, Sajjad Shahbazzadeh, headed the ball in for his 11th goal of the season and saved his manager’s blushes. Esteghlal ran out 1-0 winners and put Peykan in more trouble.
Malavan 3-0 Rah Ahan
Bottom two teams of the table met in a ‘6-pointer’ relegation battle. Malavan who were coming into the game as favourites after their unexpected victory against Persepolis in Tehran, whereas Rah Ahan are tipped to go down due to their poor results and many problems off the pitch.
No going down, Malavan celebrate winning an important relegation battle.
34 year old former Esteghlal and Persepolis midfielder, Pejman Nouri, scored a goal and was named Man Of The Match as Malavan ran out deserved 3-0 winners of a game that Rah Ahan had to win to avoid defeat. Farzad Hatami and Reza Etemadi scored the other two goals as Malavan move out of the relegation zone and heap more misery on Rah Ahan who have now lost 5 games in a row and remain at the foot of the table.
Padideh 0-1 Persepolis
You may wonder why is a mid-table clash so important? Well, there was a lot riding on this game. Persepolis traveled to Mashhad to face Padideh with a lot of pressure on their manager, Hamid Derakhshan. A disappointing defeat against 10-men Malavan at home last week, increasing rumours of the sack looming over Derakhshan’s shoulders and many problems off the field all made this game extremely important for The Reds.
Important 3 points for Perspolis in Mashhad
It was a tight game as expected but a great goal by Persepolis’ best player this season, Omid Alishah, was the difference and earned a priceless three points for his manager. Persepolis will be hoping this is the start of a good run of form to build momentum ahead of their AFC Champions League campaign.
Here’s the round up of other games:
There were five other games in 20th round of Persian Gulf Pro League 2014/15. Managerless Tractor Sazi who sacked Rasoul Khatibi earlier in the week traveled to Qom to face Saba. Brazilian striker and league’s top goalscorer, Edinho, scored as Tractor Sazi won 3-2 in a game full of goals and action. New signing and Iran international midfielder, Andranik Teymourian, scored his first goal for the club too. Portuguese manager Toni Oliveira was in attendance and his appointment as TractorSazi’s new manager was confirmed yesterday.
In Tehran, Naft Tehran beat Saipa to move to the top of the league as they prepare for their AFC Champions League play-off. Young striker, Amir Arsalan Motahari helped his team by scoring two goals as 10-men Saipa were brushed aside. Naft Tehran played Peykan a few days later in a game from week 21 which was pushed forward due to Naft’s participation in AFC Champions League this coming week. The game ended 1-1 and Naft lost the chance to put more distance between themselves and the rest of the title challengers.
Defending champions Foolad hosted Sepahan in a clash of two top four clubs. This was Hossein Faraki’s first game against the club with whom he won the league with last season. His return was not a sweet one for his former employers as Sepahan came away with a very important away 1-0 win and Foolad lost the chance to return to the top of the league. Highly rated striker, Mehdi Sharifi, scored the goal to please many National Team fans.
Also, on form Zob Ahan beat Esteghlal Khuzestan 2-1 to continue their great recent performances. And finally, Gostaresh Foolad and Naft Masjed Soleyman shared the spoils in Tabriz with a bore 0-0 draw which keeps both of them in what seems to be one of the fiercest relegation battles in recent seasons.
Players of the week:
Esteghlal’s Sajjad Shahbazzadeh has gained many plaudits by being his team’s saviour again when he scored the only goal in his team’s victory. An international recall doesn’t seem out of reach.
Naft Tehran’s 21 year old striker, Amir Arsalan Motahari, has been impressive of late and his two goals against Saipa has certainly cemented his spot in the starting 11.
Omid Alishah of Persepolis. In our opinion, one of the best U-23 players currently playing in Iran. He is a pacy winger and has the ability to play at full back and his great performances this season will not go unnoticed as we think Carlos Queiroz will grant him his Team Melli debut sooner rather than later.
Below is the current league standings after the 20th round.