Esteghlal and Sepahan missed the chance of overtaking Persepolis for the second spot in the table as both sides settled for draws in the Persian Gulf Pro League on Tuesday.
Nassaji Mazandaran capitalized on the two giants’ slip as a Hamed Shiri’s 82nd-minute spot-kick secured a 1-0 victory over Naft Masjed Soleyman, lifting the northern Iranian side to the third spot – equal on points with Esteghlal and Sepahan.
The Tehran-based Blues failed to break a solid backline of Mehdi Tartar’s Paykan as it finished goalless at Tehran’s Shahr-e Qods Stadium.
In a match of few clear-cut chances, striker Amir-Arsalan Motahari missed the best opportunity for Mahmoud Fekri’s side on the hour mark, seeing his header kept out by Paykan keeper Mohammad Deris.
Meanwhile, Sajjad Shahbaz-Zadeh gave Moharam Navidkia’s Sepahan an early lead against Saipa, putting his side on its way to a third consecutive league victory.
But Saipa’s late push for an equalizer paid off with six minutes left of normal time when substitute Majid Aliyari headed home a Mohsen Mosalman’s corner-kick to seal a point for Ebrahim Sadeqi’s men, who are still undefeated in the new season – alongside league leader Golgohar Sirjan, holder Persepolis, and Foolad Khuzestan.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, skipper Taleb Rikani scored his fourth goal of the season – third penalty – to lead San’at Naft Abadan to a 1-0 victory at home over Zob Ahan.