Persepolis manager Yahya Golmohammadi said a victory over his team in the Persian Gulf Pro League was nothing less than Aluminium Arak deserved on Monday.
Alireza Naqizadeh bagged the sole goal of the match with 20 minutes into the second half as Rasoul Khatibi’s men inflicted a first defeat of the season on the Tehran-based Reds, who are after a record-extending sixth consecutive title.
“Congratulations to Aluminium as they were much better than us and fought harder. They were also more clinical in front of the goal. We did not show much of a quality and did not deserve to earn even a draw,” Golmohammadi said in the post-match press conference.
A 2-1 defeat in the corresponding fixture in January was the only setback of last season for Persepolis.
“There is much to learn from the defeat. We were beaten here last season but won the next six games after that. We will have to work harder in training. That’s what we have to do in the coming days as we will be involved in another tough contest, against Gogohar, next,” the Iranian manager added.
Persepolis and Golgohar Sirjan will square off at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium on Saturday.
Golgohar was held to 1-1 draw at home against Nassaji Mazandaran on Monday.
Hassan Najafi scored for the visiting side in the 71st minute – nine minutes after coming on as a substitute – to cancel out Younes Shakeri’s first-half opener.
The result left Golgohar third in the table with seven points – two points adrift of league leader Sepahan and Esteghlal, which are on a three-game winning streak.
Aluminium, meanwhile, overtook Persepolis to go level on points with Golgohar, with the champion in the fifth spot on six points.
Also on Monday, Foolad Khuzestan claimed a first victory of the season under new head coach Abdollah Veisi, beating Mes Rafsanjan 2-1 at Foolad Arena.
Veteran Brazilian Luciano Pereira opened the account for Foolad from the spot in the 28th minute, before Ahmad Aljabouri doubled the host’s lead right after the break.
Substitute Nigerian Godwin Mensha pulled one back for Mes with 20 minutes left from normal time, but Foolad survived a late scare to ease the pressure on Veisi, after back-to-back defeats to the start of the new campaign.