The third week of the Persian Gulf Pro League started with a few snoozefests, many entertaining matches, and lots of controversy. We bring you the summary and highlights of the third week of the PGL alongside “Game of the Week” and “Ahdaaf Player of the Week”.
Game of the Week
Sepahan FC and Perspolis FC’s rivalry, the Derby of Iran, has always been one of the most interesting and has provided the fans with some of the most entertaining and exciting matches in PGL’s history. And this was the case once again, when the two Iranian giants went head to head in the Foolad Shahr stadium. Sepahan wanted to get the most points out of the game and stay on top, while Persepolis who had not beaten Sepahan in the Foolad Shahr stadium for 11 years, was looking forward to set the records straight once and for all. Both teams, however, were looking forward to another beautiful game full of goals, and that’s exactly what they provided.
Sepahan started the game strongly with a goal in the 7th minute from Ehsan Hajsafi. However, Perspolis’s Mehdi Taremi equalized shortly after in the 12th minute. Sepahan then started many dangerous attacks on Persepolis’s goal, putting a lot of pressure on the Reds’ defense. However, through a counter attack starting from a quick free kick take from Ramin Rezaeian, Ali Alipour got the ball and ran through the entire field in an unstoppable fashion, to beat Sepahan’s goalkeeper and give the pass to Omid Alishah for a simple tap in against an open net in the 32nd minute of the game. It was 2-1 to Perspolis who had started the game 1-0 behind. The game was beautiful until then, but after that point the game became a lot more scrappy and more entertaining than attractive. Sepahan’s many attacks finally payed off as Rasoul Navidkia’s shot deflected off Michael Umaña’s foot. It was then that Umaña accidentally opened his own net, and equalized the game 2-2 for Sepahan in the 39th minute, right before the end of the first half.
The second half then started with even more attacks from Perspolis on Sepahan’s goal, and a brilliant shot around the keeper from Mehdi Taremi which barely missed the net. The game went on beautifully as both teams were thirsty for more goals, but a small contact from Mehrdad Kafshgari in the penalty area and a controversial overreaction from Hajsafi tricked the referee into giving out a penalty to Sepahan. It was then that Aghili stood behind the ball, teased Sadeghi and shot the exact same way that he dived, but the ball sneaked through to make the game 3-2 for Sepahan. However, that was not the only controversial scene in the game as many experts and Perspolis fans criticized the referee for denying two extremely suspicious penalties on Perspolis’s Omid Alishah. It was exactly then, when Perspolis was looking for the equalizing goal that Kamyabinia sent a header into his own box, and Khalatbari took advantage of the midfielder’s mistake and scored Sepahan’s fourth goal against Perspolis to kill off any hopes of an equalizer among the Reds. The game ended with Sepahan winning 4-2 against Perspolis, in an extremely controversial game which followed with a case against the referee from Perspolis’s board of directors.
Rest of the Games
The game between Siah Jamegan and Naft Tehran was one that nearly all Iranian football fans predicted to end with Naft Tehran gaining all 3 points, however, things didn’t go as planned for Mansourian’s team. Naft who had started the game well, conceded a goal because of Beiranvand’s vital mistake. Reza Enayati made the most out of Beiranvand’s insistence on dribbling him and tackled the ball away to Zamehran, who scored to make the game 1-0 for Siah Jamegan in the 34th minute. After that Naft attacked one after another, and even got a penalty. Isa Ale Kasir, however, missed by hitting the post, for the game to stay 1-0 in Siah Jamegan’s favor.
Malavan played and deservedly won 2-0 against Esteghlal Ahvaz in the Takhti Stadium in Anzali. In a game that Maziar Zare scored one of the easiest goals in his career at the 16th minute, and Farzad Hatami scored a beautiful volley in the 46th minute, Malavan easily got the 3 points. Another controversial game was one between Ali Daei’s Saba Qom, and Gostaresh Foolad in Yadegar Imam Qom’s stadium. A game which ended in a 1-1 draw, with Gostaresh’s Asadi scoring an own goal in the 9th minute and Goudarzi’s penalty equalizing the game. However, neither the players, nor the goals were the highlight of the match, as many believed that the referee had made an unacceptable amount of wrong decisions. Mr. Vasilehbar, the referee of the game, didn’t help himself either when he cursed off one of the angry fans in the crowd. This caused much controversy, and the referee was heavily criticized for his weak judgement and unprofessional behavior.
Tractor FC and Crystal Rah Ahan FC’s game in Yadegar Imam Tabriz stadium was predicted as an easy game for Tractor, however, the game wasn’t all that easy as the favorites drew 1-1 against Rah Ahan. Tractor’s goal came in the 21st minute from Soroosh Rafiei, however Mehrdad Mohammadi equalized the game in the 88th minute with a stunner, so that both teams could only take 1 point home.
The biggest game of the week after Perspolis and Sepahan’s clash, was yet another rivalry between a team from Tehran and a team from Isfahan, this time in Tehran’s Azadi Stadium. Esteghlal Tehran and Zob Ahan Isfahan went head to head with Esteghlal fans hoping to win against Zob Ahan who had Yahya Golmohammadi on their bench. Yahya, who was once Perspolis’s captain and manager, and also held an unbeaten record against Esteghlal was something for the Blues to worry about. And Esteghlal’s worry was justified as they went on to lose 2-0 to Zob Ahan that dominated the entire game. The goals of the game came from Ehsan Pahlavan in the 61st minute, and Morteza Tabrizi in the 84th minute, for Yahya to win yet another game against Esteghlal and keep his unbeaten record.
Foolad Khuzestan went into the Khuzestan Derby against Esteghlal Khuzestan in Ghadir Ahvaz, with a shocking loss of form in their first 2 games of the season. Foolad had drew both of their first games against much weaker sides, and hadn’t played well either. While on the other side, Esteghlal Khuzestan had a brilliant form, nearly squeezing out a point from the Sepahan game and winning against Perspolis. This led the Esteghlal Khuzestan fans dream of a long awaited win against Foolad Khuzestan, and that’s exactly what they got. Esteghlal Khuzestan won 2-0 against Foolad, with the goals coming from Hassan Beytsaeid in the 53rd minute and a very late goal from Farshad Janfaza in the 94th minute to insure the win for the Blues of Khuzestan.
Saipa FC won 2-1 against Padideh FC in a thrilling match, with all goals of the game coming from Saipa’s players. Gholam Reza Rezaei scored 2 goals for Saipa in the 13th and 66th minute, but Saipa’s Hamed Shiri scored an own goal in the 82nd minute to get rid of their breathing space and make the last minutes of the game more stressful for his team.
Ahdaaf Player of the Week
Gholam Reza Rezaei – Previously a popular Perspolis winger, and Naft Tehran striker, he was a risky purchase from Saipa’s Majid Jalali who mainly focuses on younger players, with Rezaei being 31 years old. However, he scored both of Saipa’s goals against Padideh to single handedly win the game for his team, to show that he could be a player Saipa could heavily rely on.