Meisam Majidi netted a 92nd-minute equalizer to rescue a point for Aluminium Arak at home against Persian Gulf Pro League leader Esteghlal as the two sides settled for a 1-1 draw on Monday.
French summer signing Kevin Yamga gave the Tehran-based Blues the lead from the spot with 12 minutes into the game after a cleared header hit the arm of former Esteghlal midfielder Esmaeil Sharifat in the box.
Chances were few and far between in a game featuring two teams that had jointly conceded seven goals after 12 rounds of matches before the encounter, and the home side had to thank another ex-Blues’ player to salvage a draw.
Majidi beat center-back Aref Aqasi to the ball before his strike from the edge of the box went in off the post – nine minutes after he had come off the bench.
The draw kept Farhad Majidi’s men – still unbeaten in the league – on top of the table with 29 points, but Persepolis and Sepahan took advantage to cut the deficit to one and four points respectively.
At Tehran’s Azadi Stadium, Siamak Nemati bagged the winner 10 minutes into the second period – after Payman Babaei had canceled out an Issa Al-e Kassir’s opener for Persepolis in the first half – as the defending champion – seeking a sixth consecutive title – walked away with a 2-1 home victory over Tractor.
In Mashhad, a run of three consecutive defeats came to an end for Sepahan, which, despite dominating the game, had to wait 67 minutes to break the deadlock against Padideh – rock bottom in the table – when Farshad Ahmadzadeh headed home on an inch-perfect cross by Danial Esmaeilifar.
Substitute Shahriar Moghanlou sealed the 2-0 victory for the visiting side right at the death, tapping in from close range after young keeper Babak Salamat had initially denied an Esmaeilifar’s effort.
Elsewhere, in-form Mes Rafsanjan beat San’at Naft Abadan at home 3-0 – courtesy of goals by Mehdi Hosseini, Faraz Emam-Ali, and Mohammadreza Hosseini – to overtake Aluminium for the fourth spot on goal difference.
Amir Qalenoei’s Golgohar Sirjan beat Naft Masjed Soleyman 2-0 – thanks to second-half strikes by Reza Shekari and Navid Aa’shouri – while Havadar and Nassaji Mazandaran shared the spoils in a goalless contest in Karaj.
Zob Ahan celebrated a second win on the bounce as Milad Jahani scored in each half to hand his team a 2-0 triumph at home over newly-promoted Fajr Sepasi.
In Ahvaz, Javad Nekounam’s Foolad Khuzestan was denied all three points, as Payman Ranjbari drew Paykan level with three minutes left from normal time after Brazilin Luciano Pereira had put the host in front right before the interval.