The Persian Gulf Pro League title race will go down to the wire as both leaders Persepolis and Sepahan came out victorious before heading into the final round of fixtures.
In Tehran, Persepolis were shocked by Peyman Babaei with five minutes into the second half, but substitute Mehdi Abdi scored either side of an Ahamd Nourollahi’s strike as Yahya Golmohammadi’s men beat Tractor 3-1.
Persepolis striker Mehdi Abdi (C) celebrates his first goal during a 3-1 victory over Tractor in Tehran, Iran, on July 25, 2021.
Meanwhile, Omid Nourafkan gave Sepahan the lead against Zob Ahan with a sizzling free-kick right before the break, with Reza Mirzaei sealing the 2-0 victory deep into stoppage time.
Sepahan felt lucky to leave the pitch with all three points after Vahid Mohammadzadeh blew the chance for an equalizer mid-way through the second half, hitting the crossbar from the spot.
Sunday’s results saw Persepolis – chasing a fifth consecutive title – keeping a two-point lead over Sepahan.
With Persepolis holding a superior goal difference over Sepahan, a draw against Paykan on Friday might be enough for the Reds to lift the trophy as Sepahan will have to beat third-placed Esteghlal by three goals in Tehran to win the title.
Esteghlal, who beat Nassaji Mazandaran 3-1 on Sunday, have suffered only two defeats at home all season, against Saipa (1-0) and Zob Ahan (2-0).
Three teams will still be looking to avoid joining Mashinsazi in relegation on Friday.
Saipa, second from bottom, claimed a massive 1-0 win over Aluminium Arak on Sunday, courtesy of Majid Aliyari’s 76th-minute goal, to move level on points with Zob Ahan.
Naft Masjed Soleyman, meanwhile, fell to a 2-1 defeat against Golgohar Sirjan and will surely feel the threat against Aluminium, with only two points clear of Zob Ahan and Saipa before Friday’s fixtures.
Zob Ahan will host Mes Rafsanjan at home, while Saipa will play away to Tractor, who will have a glimmer hope of a top-four finish and a possible place at next season’s AFC Champions League.
The fourth spot will up for grabs between three teams on Friday as fourth-placed Golgohar, Foolad Khuzestan, and Tractor are only separated by two points.
Golgohar will play at home against Nassaji, with Foolad visiting Padideh Mashhad.