The much anticipated first week of the Persian Gulf Pro League got off to an uneventful start. An unspectacular 12 goals in the 8 games that took place, only three teams managed to take home all 3 points as the rest contested draws. All 16 teams came into the season with hopes of getting off to a solid start. We bring you the highlights of the first matchday, along with ‘Game of the Week’ and ‘Ahdaaf Player of the Week’.
Game of the Week
Persepolis 2-2 Padideh
This was an interesting match in many ways. With Persepolis coming into the season on the back of a successful pre-season campaign, fans were beginning to raise their expectations in the hope of a much improved season in comparison to the last. Padideh, however, have had some major changes taking place at the club. A change of manager and a host of new names coming into the team, many eyes were on them to see how they get on in their first game.
The game got off to a blistering start when after only 6 minutes, a nice combination between Rezaeian and Norouzi resulted to a cross from the right which young striker, Ali Alipour, headed in with a diving header just outside the 8-yeard box. Padideh who looked unable to cope with the pressure, had their bar rattled minutes later from another header, this time from Milad Kamandani. As the stadium was expecting Persepolis to double their lead, a quick counter by Padideh took the Persepolis defence by surprise as Younes Shakeri tapped in a scuffed shot by Hossein Badamanki as Persepolis defenders were unable to clear the ball.
A minute later, as Persepolis players were beginning to recover from the equaliser, a great cross from deep by newly signed Mohsen Yousefi, was headed in by former Persepolis man, Hossein Badamaki, to make it 2-1. Ivankovic will be very disappointed with that defending as it was a combination of poor marking and a lack of understanding between Rezaeian and Maric who filled the offside. Persepolis began to find their feet again and after a couple of missed opportunities, new club captain, Hadi Norouzi, took the ball 30 yards out, and sent an incredible long-range missile towards the Padideh goal which went in after hitting the bar on its way. It was a spectacular effort on 26th minute which brought the game level.
2nd half was all Persepolis as they pushed for a winner, Ahmadzadeh was a threat all game for the Reds and managed to create a few opportunities but there was some good performances from Padideh at the back, Mahmoud Khamis and Meysam Naghizadeh in particular, as both teams played out a 2-2 draw.
This was a good result for both teams, with Persepolis missing 6-7 key players due to suspensions and injuries, it was a chance to see how the youngsters will do and they performed well in attack, although the defensive side of their game has room for improvement.
Rest of the Games
Esteghlal travelled to Mashhad to play newly promoted Siah Jamegan. Two goals by Sajjad Shahbazzadeh either side of a Alireza Naghizadeh goal, won Esteghlal the game by 2-1 as the Blues took the all-important 3 points.
Defending champions, Sepahan, got off to a winning start with prolific striker, Mehdi Sharifi, scoring a diving header to win the game for his team 1-0 against Esteghlal Khuzestan.
Ali Daei’s Saba Qom hosted newly promoted Esteghlal Ahvaz in an uneventful 0-0 draw with neither of them having much to offer in a dreadful game.
2013/14 champions, Foolad Khuzestan, battled back from 2-0 down to earn a crucial 2-2 draw against Rah-Ahan. All goals came in the second half, Mehrdad Mohammadi and Amin Manouchehri got on the scoresheet for Rah-Ahan before Mathias Chago reduced the deficit, and Mehdi Badrloo completed the comeback on 88th minute with a fantastic free-kick.
Javad Nekounam was absent as his new teammates at Saipa played out a 0-0 draw at home against Gostaresh. The game was abandoned after 88 minutes due to light failure, which raised concerns from Saipa manager Majid Jalali, who has asked the League organisers to move the games to an earlier time to avoid such problems.
The much anticipated match between Naft Tehran and Tractor Sazi, wasn’t as exciting or controversial as the last time the two teams met. A 0-0 draw was contested as both teams had many new players to show.
Malavan pulled off a shock as they beat pre-season title contenders, Zob Ahan, 1-0 at home. An Arash Afshin goal in the 2nd half completed a solid performance by Malavan and this result would mean many teams will now look at them as a bigger threat.
Ahdaaf Player of the Week:
Hossein Badamaki – Badamaki who moved to Padideh during the Summer window, captained his new team to a crucial 2-2 draw at Azadi Stadium against Persepolis. An assist and a goal, symbolised his great all-round performance as he led by example against the club whom he played for during 6 seasons.