The second week of the Persian Gulf Pro League started with fans wanting their team to get the most points out of each game and either get a better position on the table, or keep their grounds. We bring you the summary and highlights of the second week of the PGL alongside “Game of the Week” and “Ahdaaf Player of the Week”.
Game of the Week
Tractor FC and Gostaresh Foolad had to play the Tabriz Derby on the second week.
Tractor had the upper hand with younger and better players, and started the game well with dangerous attacks on Gostaresh’s goal. The constant attacks ended with Tractor scoring an early goal at the 11th minute. Shoja Khalilzadeh, the centre back who was banned from playing in the 2014/15 season, scored a header from Ramsay’s brilliant ball into the box from the corner spot.
The game went on with more pressure coming from Tractor to score the second goal, and a few counter attacks from Gostaresh, whose players looked hurried in the box. After a few more attacks and counters, Tractor got a corner kick, with Ramsay behind the ball once again. He crossed the ball into the box and Shoja scored another beautiful header and put Tractor 2-0 ahead. This was a brilliant debut for Shoja Khalilzadeh who had much to prove. Only a few minutes later, Tractor got another chance to score against Gostaresh with Saman Norman Jahan (who was wearing the captain arm band with the absence of Iranpourian and Bayrami), when he got a brilliant pass and ran with the ball until he spotted the keeper standing a little ahead of his line, and he curved the ball around him to score Tractor’s 3rd goal. Saman didn’t celebrate however, as Gostaresh was his previous club.
The first half ended 3-0 for Tractor, so naturally, Gostaresh came into the second half with many more attacks and much more pressure on Tractor’s goal. However, the Gostaresh players couldn’t finish most of the attacks, and some were even brilliantly saved by Akhbari (Iran National Team and Tractor FC’s young goalkeeper). As a consolation though, Shojaeian scored a goal for Gostaresh in the 85th minute from a clever free kick set piece, and that’s how the game ended. The Tabriz Derby ended 3-1 for Tractor, a win that was predicted by many.
Rest of the Games
Foolad Khuzestan travelled to Mashhad after a disappointing draw against Rah Ahan Crystal FC, to face off against Padideh FC, who still carried on the great morale from the draw in their first game against Perspolis. So naturally, Padideh had great hopes for the game against Foolad FC in the Samen Stadium. Padideh started well with good defending and dangerous counter attacks, and even got a goal against Foolad at the 38th minute when Moradvand’s header crossed the goal line. However, Foolad got back into the game, with a goal at the 89th minute from Ebrahimi. And even though, it is highly speculated that Foolad’s goal was offside, they got a late draw against an in-form Padideh side, for the game to end 1-1.
Naft Tehran had to play against Ali Daei’s Saba Qom, and it was Saba that started the game on with an upper hand when Alimohammadi scored in the second minute to put Saba 1-0 ahead. However, Naft took advantage of Hamed Lak (Saba’s Goalkeeper)’s mistake and Bouazar scored a long ranger from the free kick spot to achieve a late 1-1 draw against Saba Qom.
Saipa deservedly won 2-0 against Rah Ahan Crystal FC, in a game which the two previous Esteghlal veterans Milad Meydavoudi (58’) and Javad Nekounam (70’) scored, and the importance of the game was instantly multiplied when Nekounam scored on his debut for Saipa.
Perspolis FC had to go against Esteghlal Khuzestan in the Ghadir Stadium, who had the advantage of an infernal weather, over 49 Centigrade (120 Fahrenheit). This was the weather which the Esteghlal Khuzestan players were used to and trained in. However, Perspolis players who had most of their trainings and games in Tehran weren’t used to anything similar to Khuzestan’s heat. This caused many to predict a draw or even a loss for Perspolis in this scorching and extremely unhealthy weather. The game started decently enough, and even though it was evident that the weather had affected the Perspolis players, the game went on a 0-0 draw for the entirety of the first half. However, even the first half had its own controversies. With two extremely dangerous fouls committed on Omid Alishah by Shirzadi and Ferreira, both kicking him in his chest, which could be fatal and should’ve carried a red card. But to add insult to injury, both players were only punished by a yellow card and Esteghlal Khuzestan hung on to all of their eleven players.
The second half started and it didn’t take long until Perspolis’s series of personal mistakes carried over to this game as well, when Iman Sadeghi attempted to clear the ball, but failed miserably when he completely missed the ball and even slid away in a comedic fashion which left the goal open for Beytsaeid to score at the 47th minute. Which he did by chipping the ball over Maric’s head, who had positioned himself well to try to clear the ball. After this goal, Perspolis tried to put pressure and attack against a well organized Esteghlal Khuzestan defense and in-form Fernando de Jesus (Esteghlal Khuzestan’s goalkeeper), this however, resulted in a counter attack which was scored from outside of the box by Beytsaeid once again. This goal was another achievement of Perspolis players’ personal mistakes, as Nourmohammadi didn’t even attempt to tackle the ball of Beytasaeid’s feet.
Perspolis which now had nothing to lose, went all out to attack and pressured Esteghlal Khuzestan’s goal, but it was then that Perspolis realized there is still much more to lose, and that is players! Captain Norouzi who had committed a dangerous tackle on a Esteghlal Khuzestan player, received an straight red card to make Perspolis go down to ten men. This decision was known as controversial, as Torky, the referee of the game didn’t give a single red card to the Esteghlal Khuzestan players who attempted karate kicks. This however, didn’t stop Perspolis from attacking, and the constant attacks from Perspolis resulted in a late goal from Taremi who scored past Jesus from an incredibly tight angle. Perspolis had only a few minutes left, but they put an incredible amount of pressure on Esteghlal Khuzestan’s goal, but Esteghlal got away after the final whistle was blown and Perspolis lost 2-1 to Esteghlal Khuzestan, in what was an all around controversial game, and a huge upset for the Reds.
Esteghlal Tehran played against Malavan FC, in what was advertised as an extremely controversial competition between Amir Ghalenoie (Esteghlal’s previous manager) and Parviz Mazloomi (Esteghlal’s current manager). This made the game become a ground to prove for the Esteghlal managers, and from the start, Mazloomi had more to prove. Constant attacks on Malavan’s goal, and crosses into the box, made for an entertaining first few minutes as Esteghlal had the game in hand. Malavan this time sat back, and tried to counter against Esteghlal, and was successful of getting a free kick behind Esteghlal’s goal and hitting the crossbar. However, Esteghlal’s constant pressure on Malavan’s goal, and their dangerous crosses into the box, created a beautiful goal, sent in from Heydari and scored home with Omid Ebrahimi’s bullet header into the top left. Esteghlal didn’t stop there and their constant attacks got them a free kick behind Malavan’s goal where Borhani was fouled. Omid Ebrahimi stood behind the ball and sent the ball in with another banger into the top left hand-side of the goal. Second half started with Malavan picking up a better game plan, and closing down Esteghlal, but no goals were scored and the game ended with Mazloomi as the victor of the Esteghlal Managers’ battle. Esteghlal won 2-0 in Azadi against Malavan FC.
Siah Jamegan faced the same challenge that Perspolis faced earlier, and it was to play in the hellish weather of Khuzestan against Esteghlal Ahvaz in the Ahvaz Takhti Stadium. This advantage helped Esteghlal Ahvaz get a slight 1-0 home win against Siah Jamegan, with Gholami’s penalty kick.
The Isfahan Derby, with Sepahan and Zob Ahan, wasn’t as exciting as the Tabriz Derby. Both teams lacked creativity in attack and defense, and the game was rather dull. However, like any other good PGL game, it was still full of controversy. Mohsen Ghahremani, the referee who was previously banned for 22 months from the Persian Gulf Pro League for collusion, came back to prove that he is a changed man and a changed referee. Unfortunately, he didn’t prove anything, and actually made things worse for himself. Ghahremani either didn’t spot, or didn’t count a blatant hand ball in the 58th minute of the game from Sepahan players which would’ve got Zob Ahan a penalty, and made even more controversy for himself as he was still too overweight for his profession. Sepahan however, scored a long ranger wonder strike from Ali Karimi and won the derby, against Zob Ahan.
Ahdaaf Player of the Week:
Omid Ebrahimi – One of Esteghlal’s biggest targets in the summer transfer market was to keep Omid Ebrahimi, and it was completely justified in the Esteghlal versus Malavan game. Ebrahimi is a brilliant leader in the midfield who manages both the defensive and attacking prowess of his team. He scored 2 goals against Malavan and won the game 2-0 for Esteghlal, with his bullet header and a brilliant free kick in the back of Malavan’s net.