A five-goal thriller at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran saw Esteghlal beat Mes Rafsanjan 3-2 to extend its lead over archrival Persepolis on top of the Persian Gulf Pro League table.
Yahya Golmohammadi’s defending champion was held to a 1-1 draw away to Padideh – only the fourth point and fourth unbeaten match of the season for the rock bottom side.
Sepahan, meanwhile, beat Foolad Khuzestan at home 2-1 to close the gap on Persepolis to a single point.
Summer signing Kevin Yamga took his tally to six goals for Farhad Majidi’s Esteghlal, scoring twice from the spot.
The Frenchman was brought down in the box by Mes defender Mehdi Torkaman before opening the account for the Tehran-based Blues with nine minutes into the game.
League top scorer Godwin Mensha drew the visiting side level in the similar fashion in the 34th minute after Esteghlal centerback Mohammad-Hossein Moradmand was penalized for a foul on Majid Aliyari in the 18-yard area – Nigerian’s eighth goal of the campaign.
Yamga restored the lead for the home side on the hour mark when referee Mohammad-Hossein Torabian pointed to the spot for the third time, courtesy of a Majid Nasiri’s tackle on Rudy Gestede.
Mes blew golden opportunities for a second equalizer as Mensha’s effort in the box was kept out by keeper Seyyed Hossein Hosseini with Aliyari’s point-blank header hitting the crossbar in the 74th minute.
There was further misery for Mes when an Aqil Ka’bi’s back pass was intercepted by Amin Qasseminejad, who went past goalkeeper Davoud Noushi-Soufiani and put the ball into the back of net in the 87th minute – three minutes after coming off the bench.
Mes cut the deficit to one through substitute Mohammadreza Soleimani in the first minute of stoppage time but it proved too little too late as Esteghlal is yet to concede a defeat after 14 games into the season, moving three points clear of Persepolis.
A frustrating encounter for the Tehran-based Reds was settled by a couple of first-half own goals.
Masoud Zaer’s header on a Mehdi Torabi’s free kick went past keeper Saeid Jalali-Rad in the 31st minute for the champion’s opener.
Padideh’s leveler was identical to the first goal of the match as Vahid Amiri’s header on a set piece wrong-footed keeper Hamed Lak right before the break.
Persepolis desperately pushed for a winner in the second period but failed to create clear-cut chances against a resolute home side, which finished the game with 10 men after Zaer received his marching orders in the first minute of injury time.
In Isfahan, Omid Nour-Afkan delivered a man-of-the-match performance to lead Moharram Navidkia’s Sepahan to a massive home win against Foolad.
The Iranian international fullback first found Soroush Rafiei on the edge of the box with a cutback cross before the midfielder’s low drive found the bottom-left corner in the 34th minute.
Nour-Afkan scored one of the contenders for the goal of the season 10 minute after the interval, dribbling past three Foolad players before his sizzling strike from an acute angle in the box went in off the bar.
South African Ayanda Patosi pulled one back for Javad Nekonam’s Foolad from the spot but it proved not to be enough as Sepahan left the pitch with maximum points.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Amin Pour-Ali bagged the only goal of the game in the 15th minute to give Gol Gohar Sirjan a home victory over Havadar.
Amir Nouri scored a 75th-minute equalizer for Aluminium Arak in Tehran to cancel out Alireza Koushki’s first-half goal for Paykan as the game finished 1-1.
That was the same scoreline between Fajr Sepasi and Tractor in Shiraz.
Hossein Mehrban put the host in front in the 64th minute, only to see his goal responded by Reza Dehqani 13 minutes later.
Taleb Rikani and Mahmoud Motlaq-zadeh scored in each half as San’at Naft Abadan walked away with a 2-0 home victory over Naft Masjed Solyman, while Ayoub Kalantari’s strike early in the second half sealed a 1-0 win for Nassaji Mazandaran against Zob Ahan.