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Number Seven Thousand Two Hundred and Ninety One - 14 May 2023
Iran Daily - Number Seven Thousand Two Hundred and Ninety One - 14 May 2023 - Page 5

Persian Gulf Pro League:

Persepolis, Sepahan on fire as title race goes down the wire

Persepolis routed Golgohar Sirjan 4-0 at home to stay atop the Persian Gulf Pro League table while a 5-0 demolishing of Paykan in Isfahan kept Sepahan within touching distance of the Tehran-based Reds with one round of matches to spare.
Meanwhile, Esteghlal’s title defense is officially over despite the Blues salvaging a 2-1 victory at Mes Rafsanjan.
In the bottom end of the table, Naft Masjed Soleyman is the first team to be relegated from the Iranian top-flight following a goalless stalemate away to Aluminium Arak.
Mes Kerman and San’at Naft Abadan, however, remain equal on points and will give it their best shot for survival on the final day.

Ruthless Reds
In Tehran’s Azadi Stadium, Persepolis continued its perfect run since the turn of the Persian new year in late March thanks to what was probably the Reds’ best performance of the season.
Reds supporters had to wait 80 minutes to see their team secure maximum points against Paykan last time out – thanks to a Mehdi Torabi’s spot-kick – but it took the Iranian international, who has been in dazzling form over the past two months, only until midway through the first half to open the scoring for Yahya Golmohammadi’s side.
Saeed Sadeqi’s low effort from outside the box was kept out by Golgohar keeper Mohsen Forouzan but Torabi pounced in on the rebound and got his second of the day 10 minutes later with a long-rage freekick that bounced off the pitch before going in off the keeper’s hands.
Sadeqi put the game to bed, firing into the roof the roof of the net with left foot from a cute angle.
Torabi saved his best for last, completing his hat-trick with a sumptuous lob from outside the box four minutes after the break – a serious contender for the goal of the season.
The Iranian winger has now been involved in nine of the 14 goals Persepolis has scored after the new year vacations, while a sixth successive victory since the 1-0 home defeat against Sepahan in March leaves the club within a win of a sixth league crown in seven seasons.
Persepolis – top of the table with 63 points – heads to northern Iran to take on Nassaji Mazandaran in Qaemshahr’s Shahid Vatani Stadium on Thursday.
Sepahan, trailing Persepolis by a single point, showed no mercy against Paykan, which went down to 10 men after Sherzod Temirov was booked twice inside two minutes late in the first half, in Naqsh-e Jahan Stadium and will be desperate to see the Reds slip on the final day.
Former Persepolis striker Shahriyar Moghanlou bagged a brace to overtake Tractor’s Reza Asadi on top of the topscorers chart with 12 goals, while Omid Nourafkan continued his glittering campaign with a double.
Ramin Rezaeian was also on the scoresheet to keep Sepahan’s hopes for a first league crown in eight years alive.
Sepahan will next play away to Mes Kerman, where the home side will have it all to fight for.
Mes shared the spoils with Malavan in a goalless stalemate in Bandar Anzali to stay just outside the relegation zone thanks to a head-to-head advantage over San’at Naft.
San’at, which has managed to close an eight-point gap on Mes since Abdollah Veisi took over on the bench,  got off to a flying start at home against Zob Ahan, going in front through Taleb Rikani’s penalty in the third minute.
San’at skipper, however, turned from hero to villain seven minutes later, when he was shown a straight red for a reckless high foot on Mohammad Qoreishi’s chest.
Amirhossein Jeddi equalized for the visiting side in the 27th minute as it finished 1-1.
San’at Naft will visit Golgohar next, needing to better Mes Kerman’s result against Sepahan to stay in the league.
In Rafsanjan, three goals in seven minutes saw Esteghlal come for behind to beat Mes Rafsanjan 2-1.
Mehdi Hosseini gave Mohammad Rabiei’s men a 74th-minute lead before Mohammadhossein Moradmand drew the Blues level three minutes later with a header on a Mehdi Mehdipour’s set-piece.
Mohammad Mohebbi tapped in the winner from close range on a Mehdi Qayedi’s low cross as Esteghlal stayed four points behind its archrival on top, ruing last week’s home draw against San’at Naft.
Elsewhere, Havadar and Foolad Khuzestan played to a goalless draw in Tehran, while a Mohammad Qanbari’s superb strike from the corner of the box in the last minute of the normal time saw Tractor edge Nassaji 1-0 to secure a fourth-pot finish in the table, and a possible berth for the AFC Champions League.


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