Mehdi Qayedi scored a 93rd-minute equalizer as Esteghlal played to a 2-2 draw against archrival Persepolis at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran.
A second-half fightback had seen Persepolis, having gone behind through Amir-Arsalan Motahari with only two minutes in to the game, take a well-deserved lead in the second period, courtesy of goals from Mehdi Abdi and Vahid Amiri.
Mahmoud Fekri’s Blues started right on the front foot and an error of judgement by Reds midfielder Kamal Kamyabinia saw Motahari win the ball in the box before his sizzling strike found the bottom-right corner.
Abdi could have brought Persepolis on the level terms in the 19th minute but his header went just wide.
Having enjoyed the majority of the ball in the first half, Yahya Golmohammadi’s men leveled the tie six minutes after the interval, when a long ball from the Reds’ backline fell into Abdi’s way, who played a nice dummy to go past his marker before his cool left-footed effort went in.
Ahmad Nourollahi missed a glorious chance to give Persepolis the lead 10 minutes later, only to see his effort from the edge of the six-yard box cleared off the line by Esteghlal’s Masoud Rigi.
Persepolis then went in front in the 66th minute, when Amiri tapped in an Ehsan Pahlevan’s low cross past Esteghlal’s keeper Rashid Mazaheri.
Nourollahi must blame himself for not securing the victory for his side as his effort in a one-on-one situation with Mazaheri went above the bar.
With the game destined for a much-needed victory for Persepolis, Qayedi kept his cool to dribble past Siamak Nemati in the box and fire in the second goal past Reds keeper Hamed Lak.
The draw leaves Esteghlal second in the table with 19 points, two adrift of San’at Naft Abadan, which has played a game more, while Persepolis sits in the eighth place with 12 points, having three games in hand.