The third Tehran derby of the season will see archrivals Persepolis and Esteghlal battling it out in the Hazfi Cup (Iranian domestic cup competition) semifinals at the Azadi Stadium on Wednesday.
Persepolis won the first meeting of the season 1-0 – courtesy of Mehdi Abdi’s late winner – in the Persian Gulf Pro League last September, while the two sides settled for a 2-2 stalemate in February.
Esteghlal’s Amir-Arsalan Motahari scored either side of an Ali Alipour’s equalizer before Iraqi midfielder Bashar Rasan scored the final goal of the tie in the 89th minute.
Wednesday’s game will be a unique encounter in the history of the Tehran derby as the two teams will have to square off in an empty Azadi Stadium – usually full-packed for the occasion – due to the coronavirus outbreak.
In January 1995, disciplinary measures forced the two clubs to play each other in front of empty seats in Bandar Abbas, southern Iran – a game which finished goalless.
Tehran giants will be heading into the game hoping to build on a recent impressive form.
Yahya Golmohammadi’s Reds – four-time successive league champions – will be seeking a second consecutive domestic double while Farhad Majidi’s Blues will aim to add a cup triumph to their decent league campaign – which saw them overtake Sepahan and Tractor for the runner-up spot.
The last time these two sides met in the cup, three extra-time goals saw Esteghlal claim a 3-0 victory in the quarterfinals in December 2011 – Blues best victory in the Tehran derby in the past 39 years.
The game will kick off at 19:00 local time (1430 GMT).