Al-Faisaly stole a valuable 3 points from Jordan Pro League Champions Wehdat in a match that saw them play in front of a huge attendance at the Amman International Stadium. 5 weeks into the JoPL, and we have already seen more than 7 managerial changes. Al-Faisaly moved into 5th place with 7 points while Wehdat gave up the top spot to Shabab Ordon.
In the build up to the match, Ahmad Abdulqader resigned from his post as Al-Faisaly manager. He was replaced by the man he replaced two weeks ago; Rateb Al-Awdat. The funny story of the JoPL, it really is.
Both teams looked set to attack from the off, aiming to threaten goalkeepers’ Amer Shafi (Wehdat) and Mohammad Al-Shatnawi (Al-Faisaly). Al-Faisaly got the better of their opponents, with all of Maher Al-Jada’, Yassin Al-Bakhit and Raed Al-Nawateer allowed the space to move and position themselves freely. Baha Abdulrahman also affected the game from deep, and his big moment came in the 34th minute when the referee blew the whistle for a free kick.
Up against the best Jordanian goalkeeper in history and one of the best Arabian goalkeepers to ever cross the region in Amer Shafi, Abdulrahman was faced with a tough test. Calm and composed he was, as he set the stadium on fire with a calculated free kick. 1-0 Al-Faisaly, and that’s how it went in until half time.
A few chances here and there for Wehdat didn’t help them in any form or shape. They came from corners and counter attacks but nothing could break the Al-Faisaly defence on the day. Rateb Al-Awdat’s return came at the perfect time – you couldn’t make this story up. Al-Awdat set this team up to battle Wehdat’s strengths and didn’t fall prey to the hype surrounding Palestinian winger Ashraf Nu’man. He was nullified, alongside teammates Abdullah Deeb and Hajj Malick.
On the other hand, Jordanian International Yassin Al-Bakhit was a menace down the left flank, providing two clear cut chances for Alassane Diallo and Raed Al-Nawateer. Both failed to capitalize on these chances, but in hindsight wouldn’t regret them at the end of the day.
Al-Faisaly set the tone for the rest of the game, rested with a deep defence and focused on hurting Wehdat on the counter attack. Just before the match ended, Hajj Malick of Wehdat headed the ball that just skimmed the crossbar – followed by the referee’s whistle. Al-Faisaly may have had a poor league season in these 2 years, but have successfully defeated Wehdat in their bid for the Jordan Cup, Super Cup and bragging rights.
Oman Pro League
Al-Khaboura shocked Oman Pro League followers with a convincing win against Champions Al-Orouba, in Week 6 of the competition. Al-Khaboura’s first win of the season came in memorable fashion. Al-Orouba now take a step back in the title race, in 3rd place currently. Meanwhile Al-Khaboura moved up into a respectable 8th place with 7 points.
Saeed Obaid made no mistake in this game, scoring a 35 minute hat trick alongside a Nabil Al-Rashidi goal that helped Al-Khaboura to a 4-0 scoreline at the end of the first half. Al-Orouba’s revitalization came late into the second half, with a goal via recent signing Mohammad Taqi, but it was nothing more than a consolation.
Al-Khaboura’s front four of Saeed Obaid, Ismail Al-Ajmi, Ahmad Dhahi and Nabil Al-Rashidi proved themselves as tricky opponents and continuously thwarted the Champions’ defence. Their gameplan largely circulated around their intent to attack, and it paid off as early as the 8th minute. Organised attacks helped Al-Khaboura get into the Al-Orouba area, with the latter finding it easy to score past opposition ‘keeper Riyadh Subait.
Ahmad Dhahi was a menace on the right wing for Al-Khaboura. His individual skill got the better of Al-Orouba’s defenders on many occasions, and in the 43rd minute his cross helped Saeed Obaid complete his hat trick.
Despite Al-Orouba’s improved attacking movement in the second half, Abdulsalam Al-Balooshi allowed no one through. Yet as the minutes went by, Al-Orouba looked more likely to dominate the game. This failed to translate into goals until Mohammad Taqi scored via Motasem Al-Shbli’s cross. Al-Khaboura, though, had nothing to worry about as they cruised to a dominating victory.
Game of the Week
Al-Ain 2-0 Al-Jazira
Stadium: Hazza Bin Zayed, Al-Ain
The campaign of “10,000 Ainawis to the Stadium” worked, with more than 12,000 fans attending the so-called Emirati Clasico. They successfully broke the record for the best attendance this season, which was previously set at 7,500. This happened as a result of the hard work done by Mohammad Rashid “Al-Omdah”, Al-Ain’s previous lead singer and currently banned fan.
Yet, it was never in doubt – Al-Ain were heavy favourites. Despite the weight of pressure on the managers and players in this match, it wasn’t significant in hindsight. Al-Jazira had to limit how many goals the Zaeem would score, and for 90 minutes they kept them out with only one goal. Felipe Bastos went on to ruin their night.
Omar Abdulrahman and co. started off in control, to nobody’s surprise. Zlatko Dalic set up Al-Ain in a 4-2-3-1, as usual, however with a different taste to it. Omar started on the right wing, while his brother Mohammad “Ajab” made the left wing his home for the night. South Korean Lee Myung Joo took up a spot in attacking midfield, away from his usual position further behind.
This allowed youngster Ahmad Barman to join Felipe Bastos in central midfield, and what a performance it was for the former. Calm, composed, strong and intelligent. It wasn’t easy for Thiago Neves to have such an impact on the game, and Barman allowed Bastos to push higher up and practice his shooting.
Abel Braga, though, had Al-Jazira in a firm mindset. They played more conservatively compared to their previous games and understandably so. One must wonder why Braga doesn’t suit the team to this style of play, with their quality of defenders being weak. This was evident in the scenario where Omar Abdulrahman instigated combination play that almost led to goals.
Emmanuel Emenike was not on the end of them, however. His movement and link up play improved yet his finishing was abysmal and as he was subbed off, was subject to jeers from the Ainawi faithful. Despite scoring more than 4 goals in 7 games, Emenike’s performances have been dreadful. But that didn’t stop Al-Ain from scoring, with Lee Myung Joo getting on the end of some fine combination play to score the opener.
Felipe Bastos continued on until the end with his solo effort earning the 3 points for Al-Ain in the last few seconds of the game. A very good performance by last season’s Champions, and we await the title decider with Al-Ahli this season. As of now, that is what the league looks like.
Rest of the Games
Al-Shaab 1-4 Al-Wahda
Stadium: Khaled Bin Mohammad, Sharjah
Al-Shaab started this game off better than any other. After the Sharjah derby misery last week, they looked to bounce back against Javier Aguirre’s Al-Wahda. The latter have still not adapted to Aguirre’s needs, and they look like a top 4 spot challenger at most.
Amro Al-Soulia, rumoured to leave to Al-Ahly Cairo in the winter transfer window, opened the scoring only for the referee to call the goal off. Michel Laurent N’dri went on to add the first himself, but Sebastian Tagliablue showed up – as usual.
A hat trick from the Argentinian striker sees him as the league’s top goalscorer for the time being, but will Joaquin Larrivey catch up to him? Time will tell, but both have shown the knack of scoring with or without help from their teammates. Nevertheless, Al-Wahda grabbed a valuable 3 points after a stutter during the first half.
Post-match, Tarek Al-Ashry put forward his resignation to the Al-Shaab board. He claimed that he had “nothing left to give to the board”. Lotfi Al-Benzarti is rumoured to lead the club in a crucial period, that will define their status as an Arabian Gulf League club.
Emirates 4-2 Al-Wasl
Stadium: Emirates Stadium, Ras Al-Khaimah
Al-Wasl’s loyal fans arrived in Ras Al-Khaimah after more than an hour on the road on a sunny day in Dubai. The passionate Scot Gordon Bisset accompanied Obaid bin Aber as a usual viewing for any AGLeague fan. Both of these guys are amongst the elite tier of loyalty for their club in the region. Nevertheless, after the ride, the exhaustion, the pain and the accommodation – they came to see their team get thrashed. Yet that doesn’t faze both men, who continue to attend every single game.
From the opening, Al-Wasl were on the back foot. They sat in their own half for most of the game – understandably with the match starting at 4:50 PM, directly facing the Ras Al-Khaimah sun.
Brett Holman is no stranger to this league especially as he played for Al-Wasl’s fierce rivals Al-Nasr in the previous season. Now at Emirates, he has formed a formidable partnership with former Nasrawi Renan in defensive midfield, and the electrifying Rodrigo Pimpao in attack. The latter grabbed his 5th assist this season, a fantastic cross that led in Holman’s goal. By that moment, Al-Wasl were 2-0 down due to a penalty they had given away earlier.
The misery didn’t stop there. Hazza Salem was sent off, resulting in another Emirates penalty. Renan stepped up, and completed his brace. Things didn’t get any better for the Cheetahs, who saw winger Salem Abdullah sent off to bring them down to 9-men just before the break.
Surprisingly, Al-Wasl came back to life in the second half while Emirates had a two-man advantage. Edgar Bruno scored in his 3rd consecutive game, bringing the score back to 3-2 in the 93rd minute. His first effort saw a powerful shot in the second half lessen the deficit, before taking advantage of a 6-yard box Royal Rumble to tap in the second. Al-Wasl fans rose, waiting for the 3rd. Could they grab a point? Mohammad Malalla, who has been excellent this season, crushed all their hopes – hurting Al-Wasl on the counter attack.
Al-Wasl’s board then went on to formally complain about the refereeing performance to the UAEFA.
Al-Nasr 1-1 Al-Shabab
Stadium: Al-Maktoum Stadium, Dubai
The Dubai Derby was an interesting match-up, with a very poor atmosphere. A member of the Ahdaaf team attended the match and the best thing to come out of the match was the fact that 40 British people attended the match with help from @ukinuae.
Jires Kembo-Ekoko, as usual, started off the match with an assist. He aided Luis Jimenez’ 5th goal of the season. But the game largely went in Al-Shabab’s favour. They controlled the game via their midfield and ended up equalizing through Jo Alves, who has made a fine start to the league. The 13 or so Al-Shabab fans were happy with his performance.
A red card for both teams (Jires Kembo-Ekoko being one of the culprits) failed to open up any attacking options for both and, the game ended with a drab scoreline. However, we do hope this adds a layer of interest into the league that looks set for an Al-Ain or an Al-Ahli win this season.
Al-Ahli 2-1 Dibba
Stadium: Rashid Stadium, Dubai
Rodrigo Lima scored in his 12th consecutive Al-Ahli game to help in handing them a tough win over newly-promoted Dibba. The win didn’t sound as easy, with Dibba threatening to equalise later in the game after a late surge saw them score a consolation via Bakare Kone. This is Al-Ahli’s 5th win on the trot as they look to return to the domestic glory they experienced two years ago.
Al-Dhafra 2-0 Baniyas
Stadium: Hamdan Bin Zayed Stadium, Madinat Zayed
Al-Dhafra finally achieved the taste of winning this season, despite their decent performances. A goal at the beginning of the game via David Barral (‘1) and Ahmad Ali Al-Abri (90+1’) helped them to scoring three points against a tough Baniyas side.
Luis Garcia Plaza has built his Baniyas team on the duo of Amer Abdulrahman and Mark Milligan, with end product coming from the front two of Ishak Belfodil and Joaquin Larrivey. However, this loss has set them back in their title as ‘dark horses’ for the title.
Fujairah 2-1 Sharjah
Stadium: Fujairah Stadium, Fujairah
Fujairah gained 6 yellow cards (!) against Sharjah, in a game that saw Madjid Bougherra earn his 5th yellow cards in 6 games. One more for the Fajrawi skipper sees him miss yet another game due to suspension. But Fujairah’s aggressive style was met with a loud and passionate fan base that derives from the tiny emirate.
Organised while defending and vibrant in attack, Ivan Hasek is starting to blend the team correctly as they strive for the Gulf Champions League spots. The 8-1 drubbing to Al-Ahli on the opening day is beginning to look like proof of the latter’s quality, rather than Fujairah’s incompetence.
But Hassan Maatouk and co. have put Paulo Bonamigo under extreme pressure, with the Brazilian set to be the 2nd manager to be sacked this season after Al-Shaab’s Tarek Al-Ashry. We’ve said it before on Ahdaaf, the relegation battle will likely go down to the two clubs hailing from the emirate of Sharjah – and both are stuck in 13th and 14th at the time of writing.
Game of the Week
Lekhwiya 1-3 Al-Rayyan
If there was any doubt remaining as to the title credentials of Al-Rayyan, it was probably extinguished by the Lions’ brilliant comeback against Lekhwiya on Saturday. The match was always going to be a hard-fought affair with defending champions Lekhwiya looking to bounce back from a worrying run of form and league leaders Al-Rayyan aiming to continue their 100% record. Al-Rayyan brought their huge fan support with them, whose numbers keep rising, especially since the win in the Clasico against Al-Arabi. However, it was unfortunate to see that a large number of the club’s fans were turned away from the gates and had to return home as a result of bad crowd management.
In a first half that saw both teams aiming to establish their presence, it was Lekhwiya who struck first. It was almost halftime when Youssef Msakni was clipped by Nathan in the box. The Tunisian stepped up to take the resultant penalty and had his first effort kept out by Omar Barry but he was able to get to the rebound and give his side the lead. Just before halftime, rising star Mohammed Jumua thought he’d got the equaliser but his shot hit the crossbar, much to the frustration of the Rayyan left-back. That sent the teams into the tunnel with Lekhwiya in the lead.
After the restart, Al-Rayyan upped the pressure and went in search of the equalizing goal but it was proving elusive. Lekhwiya were still unbreakable and in between Rayyani attacks, the champions had a couple of attacks of their own. In the 59th minute, Nam Tae Hee tried to extend Lekhwiya’s lead with a shot from the edge of the box but it hit the crossbar.
And then, just when some thought Lekhwiya would edge this and end Rayyan’s 100% record, the match turned on its head. In a 12-minute spell, the Lions scored thrice to put the life out of the Lekhwiya players. First, in the 75th minute, Victor Caceres emerged from a goalmouth confusion to dink the ball over Amine Lecomte from close range. The equalizer sparked life into Rayyani ranks and in the 82nd minute, they took the lead. Sebastian Soria sent a cross over the defence and to the far post where Sergio Garcia was all alone to volley home. The stands erupted in a roar of celebration. The celebration hadn’t died out before Soria popped up with a diving header to score Rayyan’s third against his former team. It would prove to be the cherry on the cake.
It was a cracker of a match between the defending champions and the current league leaders. The result meant that Al-Rayyan maintained their impressive 100% record after 7 games, whereas it also increased the pressure on Lekhwiya coach Djamel Belmadi who returned to the club to replace Michael Laudrup in the summer.
Al-Kharaitiyat 2-1 Al-Sailiya
Al-Kharaitiyat ended their 5-match winless streak by overcoming Al-Sailiya 2-1 at the Thani bin Jassim Stadium. Hassan Abdel Fattah opened the scoring for them in the 40th minute after lashing home with a left-footed volley. Midway through the second half, Brazilian defender Domingos got his foot to a free kick to extend the lead. A few minutes later, Al-Sailiya’s Raoul Loe rose to head past Ahmed Sufiyan but it would only prove to be a consolation goal.
Al-Wakrah 1-2 El-Jaish
The Blue Waves of Al-Wakrah were in superb form in Round 6 when they stunned Al-Gharafa with a Mouhcine Motouali brace. It seemed that form would continue when Sebastien Saez finished calmy to open the scoring agasint El-Jaish in the 64th minute. However Sardor Rashidov had other ideas; the Uzbek striker struck twice in the last ten minutes (82nd and 85th) to turn the tables.
Al-Ahli 1-0 Al-Khor
Al-Khor went into the match against Al-Ahli with no wins so far but had earned some plaudits for their resolute defending, especially in their last match against Al-Sadd. How ironic then that they ended up losing due to an own goal in the final quarter of the match! As the match seemed to be heading towards a goalless draw, Al-Khor skipper Mustafa Jalal headed past his own keeper and then went down in shock and despair.
Mesaimeer 0-2 Qatar SC
There’s something about Sebastiao Lazaroni and Qatar SC that can’t be put into words. The Brazilian coach started his third stint at the club after taking over from Radhi Shneishil and in front of him was a mess – a team with no wins from 6 matches and lying at the bottom of the table. One match later, and things are already looking brighter. He led the team to a 2-0 win over Mesaimeer and although it was two late goals from Mousa al-Allaq and Mouhcine Iajour (77th and 92nd) that did the job, few at the club will complain.
Al-Gharafa 0-0 Umm Salal
In the only goalless draw of the week, both Al-Gharafa and Umm Salal huffed and puffed but couldn’t find a way through to open the scoring. It was Al-Gharafa who had the bulk of the chances but Umm Salal keeper Baba Malik was in top form, saving a number of efforts, including those from Abdulaziz Hatem and Masoud Shojaei. After starting the season well with three wins, Al-Gharafa have now gone four matches without a win and are in 7th place while Umm Salal remain in 5th.
Al-Sadd 2-2 Al-Arabi
In the Doha Derby, Al-Sadd and Al-Arabi fought out a 2-2 draw which, albeit entertaining for the neutral, did little for either club as they look to catch up with leaders Al-Rayyan. In the 14th minute, Abdulkarim Hassan headed in a Xavi cross to give Al-Sadd the lead before Paulinho netted a brilliant strike to equalize four minutes later. Al-Arabi captain Khoukhi Boualem was shown a straight red card (55th) for a challenge on Muriqui when he was through on goal. However, ten-man Al-Arabi surprisingly took the lead when Paulinho scored with a composed finish (65th). Al-Sadd then came back into the match with a Muriqui penalty (82nd) which ensured that the points were shared.
Written by Ahmed Hashim
The stage was set at King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah for the first Saudi Clasico match between hosts Al-Ittihad and Al-Hilal in what usually promises to be a fixture with mellow drama on its worst day. Nobody however imagined what would happen on October 30, 2015. Not even by a long shot.
The visitors Al-Hilal were without their Brazilian stone wall Digao in the back, who manager Giorgos Donis chose to play young Ahmed Sharahili in his place. Al-Ittihad introduced veteran defender Hamad Al Montasheri to the lineup to enforce their garrison for what would obviously be a long night of defending Al-Hilal’s Brazilian front line of Carlos Eduardo and Ailton Almeida.
From the first whistle it looked like Al-Hilal were going to be pushing for a very quick goal to establish a lead and cruise afterwards as it only took them less than a minute to reach Fawaz Al Qarni’s goal, but Salman Al Faraj’s effort was a weak shot that rolled easily to Al-Ittihad’s man in goal. Thirty seconds later the narrative shifted entirely when Hilal defender Yasser Al Shahrani mishit a pass to Salman Al Faraj which saw Ittihad winger Fahad Al Muwallad intercepting it for it to find its way to his teammate Sanmarten. The Romanian dribbled quickly towards an unbalanced Hilal defense and tried to find Troisi with the pass, but defender Ahmed Sharahili got a touch on it and as a result the ball ended up deflecting wildly up and towards his goal. Goalkeeped Abdullah Al Sdairy shifted back towards goal to get a hand on it but only ended up crashing in his goal and getting tangled up in the net. From that moment forward the Clasico had announced itself a special occasion.
Al-Hilal, who thought only for a blink that they had established a foothold on the match were now chasing it, and it showed. Chance, after chance, after chance. The rush in the boys in blue saw them miss converting a couple of corners, a couple of looks, and a Shalhoub free-kick that Fawaz Al-Qarni had no trouble containing. Then in the 27th minute, it happened again. Right back Faisal Al-Khara gave the ball to Sanmartean who effortlessly skipped towards the left side of Al-Hilal’s box and amazingly found striker Rivas behind seven blue shirt with a cross that the Venezuelan finished in a cool fashion on the fly. Al-Ittihad were in complete control of their destiny now, and it couldn’t get any worse for Al-Hilal. Or so it seemed.
Shortly after, Al-Hilal faced another set of troubles, as Ittihad winger Fahad Al-Muwallad’s collision with Hilal captain Mohammed Al-Shalhoub sent the latter hobbling off to be subbed by Nawaf Al-Abed after the Hilali veteran had been the most expressive and active on his team. The 31st minute saw yet another moment of devastation to the travelers who were top of the league coming in to this fixture. Rivas controlled a ball on the edge of the box, who passed it back to Faisal Al-Qassem, who then had a quick double exchange with Troisi that saw the Australian take a shot on Abdullah Al-Sdairy whose block saw the ball find an unmarked Fahad Al Muwallad that easily made it 3-0. The stadium at this point had erupted with the noise of the home crowd.
Al-Hilal remained adamant that this match can’t possibly end this way and continued to push, with Fawaz Al-Qarni saving anything that came his way in return. Along with an open look that Ailton launched into row Z from the six yard box. The first half ended with the hosts comfortably in the lead with the visitors looking distraught and in disbelief at what the score looks like. The match looked over, but the Clasico had other things in mind.
Four minutes in the second half, Carlos Eduardo connected a free-kick from the right side of thebox in which he caught Fawaz Al-Qarni off guard after such a big first half that he had to make it 3-1 with plenty of time to salvage a point from the match. The next ten minutes saw plenty of exchanges between both sides with Al-Hilal looking more lively, and rightly so, yet nothing they threw at the opposition’s goal would connect. One of Ittihad’s stars during the match Fahad Al-Muwallad made an amazing run that Hilali defender Kwak Tae-Hwi managed to pluck away in the last second. Al-Hilal continued to push and finally got their second in the 65th minute when right back Mohammed Al Braik found left back Yasser Al Shahrani with a cross that he headed in from close range to make it 3-2 and give this dramatic showdown another turn.
Al-Ittihad’s resilience was being tested. Would these young Tigers crumble under this enormous pressure from a more seasoned team, or would they hold their ground. Al-Hilal finally felt that they were back in this contest and continued to shower Fawaz A-Qarni’s goal with shots, but the shot stopper continued his amazing form and stopped anything that came his way. His defense also did a spectacular displaying of breaking up play in their turn as well. Abdullah Al-Sdairy also made a huge save to keep his team in the game when he found Troisi one-on-one with him. Unfortunately that wouldn’t be enough, as an Ittihad corner from Troisi in the 73rd minute found Mohammed Abusabaan darting towards the near post and hitting it in a sliding fashion that only a defensive minded player could hit and the Hilal goalkeeper couldn’t stand in the way of the hosts’ 4th goal of the night.
Al-Hilal weren’t dead yet, and by the 84th minute Ailton managed to score a header that floated over Fawaz Al-Qarni’s head and made these last 6 minutes and stoppage time that much more nail biting. Al-Hilal came the closest in the 87th minute when Al Braik crossed the ball to an unmarked Carlos Eduardo whose header went straight to Fawaz Al-Qarni’s chest. Al-Hilal had a few more chances that weren’t as close as Eduardo’s chance, and Al-Ittihad in turn had a few their way that they missed when they could have easily buried the match once and for all. Once the final whistle blew Al-Ittihad had emerged as a legitimate contender in this competition, with Al-Hilal getting an early wakeup call that this season will not be easy for them if they want to reclaim the crown that they haven’t won for so long.
Written by Othman Al-Twaijri
Game Of the Week
Persepolis 1-1 Esteghlal
This week saw the clash of the giants of Iranian football in what is known as the Tehran Derby. The blue side of the city, Esteghlal, have had a relatively successful season while lying on top of the table, and were hoping to maintain their position with a good result in this high profile encounter. The red half of the city, however, had a rollercoaster season so far. Some poor results at the start and tragic loss of their captain, Hadi Norouzi, were enough of a motivation for them to get the 3 points in this game.
Esteghlal started the game in a positive manner, putting their arch rivals on their back foot and pushing for an early goal. First big moment of the game came in the 3rd minute when Esteghlal’s Ebrahimi thought he was clipped in the penalty area by Kamal Kamyabinia but referee rejected any claims for a penalty. Few minutes later, best chance of the game fell to Persepolis but they failed to capitalise. A bicycle kick by Farshad Ahmadzadeh, found Alishah just outside the 6 yard box, but as everyone stopped for offside, Alishah’s shot was saved miraculously by Mehdi Rahmati and Alishah couldn’t believe his luck. After a blistering start to the game in the first 25 minutes, the game had settled and calmed down with neither team pushing for an equaliser. But just before the break, a well worked move by Persepolis down the right, found Nourollahi in the box but Rahmati was there again to keep the scores level before half time.
Second half, similar to the first half, it was Esteghlal who started well and played with intensity. A cross-field ball found Heydari on the right, his fantastic cross found an unmarked Jaber Ansari whose header left Makani flatfooted and gave Esteghlal the lead on 49th minute to the delight of the blue half of Azadi Stadium. After the goal, with instructions from manager Parviz Mazloumi, Esteghlal took a more defensive approach with over 30 minutes left of play, and Persepolis were pushing more men forward in search for an equaliser. On 66th minute, Persepolis had their best chance in the 2nd half, a freekick by Rezaeian was headed back into the mix at the far post but Bengar couldn’t keep his shot down as he blazed over to the relief of Esteghlal defenders. Few minutes later, alarm bells were ringing again, as a corner was swung in by Rezaeian, Rahmati came to get the ball and failed and the ball was somehow kept out after a goalmouth scrap. The following corner saw Rahmati make yet another save, this time from an Alishah header, as Persepolis fans gasped in disappointment. Persepolis were getting closer to the all-important goal by the minute, with Esteghlal simply unable to get out of their half or keep possession. As the game approached 90th minute, 4th official announced 4 added minutes. The entire 90,000 present at the stadium held their nerves in the last few minutes. Persepolis had the final chance of the game as the ball arrived at the feet of Rezaeian outside the box, he took a first time shot which took a few deflections and it rolled into the corner of the net to the ecstasy of the Persepolis bench. It was the final kick of the game and replays showed that the last touch came from Honduran striker, Jerry Bengston.
Game ended 1-1, but unlike previous draws in this fixture, it was an action-packed game and both sets of fans enjoyed the spectacle. A draw was probably a fair result but Esteghlal will be disappointed with a last second equaliser.
Rest Of The Games:
Gostaresh 4-1 Padideh
Padideh travelled to Tabriz to face a Gostaresh side who hadn’t won their last 3 games and only scored 1 in those games. Gostaresh started brightly with Magno Batista scoring inside the first 10 minutes. Game was over at half time as Gostaresh went into the break winning 3-0. Igor Prahic scored a consolation for Padideh but Gostaresh extended their lead in the final moments of the game through 19 year old Yousef Seyyedi as the game ended 4-1.
Saba Qom 2-1 Tractor Sazi
Toni Oliveira, Tractor Sazi’s Portuguese manager was under a lot of pressure following their poor start to the season. This game was to be yet another defeat for last season’s runners up as they are now 10th in the table. Karim Eslami and an own goal from Cardoso, either side of a Hamza Younes equaliser, meant Ali Daei’s Saba get the 3 points as they look to climb the table and get into the title race.
Malavan 1-0 Foolad
A wonder goal from Hossein Mahini was enough to get Malavan the 3 points at home against crisis-hit Foolad. Dragan Skocic’s men have only kept one clean sheet this season and alarm bells must be ringing for Foolad as they are in the relegation zone with games coming thick and fast.
Esteghlal Ahvaz 1-1 Sepahan
This game turned out to be the final game of Hossein Faraki as he was sacked by Sepahan few days after this game. Esteghlal Ahvaz, who also had a new manager in Ali Hanteh, will be very pleased with this draw as they aim to turn their fortunes around and climb out of the relegation zone. Farzad Ashoubi’s late penalty earned his team a point after Khalatbari gave Sepahan the lead in the first half.
Siah Jamegan 1-2 Saipa
Majid Jalali, another manager who has had some speculation surrounding his job, bought himself some more time as his side earned another win away from home. Gholamreza Rezaei and Roozbeh Shahalidoust scored for Saipa as Omid Sink scored the only goal for Siah Jamegan. The home side are now 6 games without a win and are on a free fall down the table, with Farhad Kazemi promising to deliver some good results soon, they need to pick up points before they get dragged into the relegation zone.
Zob Ahan 4-0 Rah Ahan
A brace from Kaveh Rezaei helped Zob Ahan climb to third in the table as they ran riot past Rah Ahan. It was a one sided game which only had one outcome, Zob Ahan’s flowing attacking football earned them yet another 3 points as they aim to challenge the table leaders. Morteza Tabriz and Akbar Sadeghi scored the other goals in this game.
Naft Tehran 0-0 Esteghlal Khuzestan
This game was a clash between the overachievers and underachievers of the season so far. Esteghlal Khuzestan sitting 2nd in the table, which not many people predicted, travelled to Tehran to face AFC Champions League quarter finalists, Naft, who have had a terrible start to the season and lie 12th. Esteghlal Khuzestan recorded their 7th clean sheet of the season as they’ll be pleased with this point away from home.