News ID: 320459
Published: 1044 GMT March 07, 2022

Persian Gulf Pro League roundup: Yamga at the double as Esteghlal goes six points clear on top

Persian Gulf Pro League roundup: Yamga at the double as Esteghlal goes six points clear on top
MAHMOUD HOSSEINI/TASNIM

Esteghlal striker Kevin Yamga (2nd R) celebrates with his teammates after scoring during a 2-1 victory over Gol Gohar Sirjan at the Azadi Stadium, Tehran, Iran, on March 6, 2022.

Sports Desk

If Esteghlal goes all the way to lift a first Persian Gulf Pro League trophy since 2013, Sunday’s results will surely go down as a defining chapter of the Tehran-based Blues’ campaign come the end of the season.

French striker Kevin Yamga scored at the end of each half as Esteghlal walked away with a massive 2-1 victory over Amir Qalenoei’s in-form Gol Gohar Sirjan at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium.

The Blues still had a club great and former manager Alireza Mansourian to thank for a six-point lead – the biggest margin of all season – over their archrival Persepolis on top of the table, after his side San’at Naft Abadan stunned the wasteful Reds 2-0 at home later in the day.

In Tehran, Gol Gohar thought it would take a well-deserved lead heading into the interval when Esteghlal center-back Mohammad Daneshgar handled the ball on a corner kick, convincing referee Bijan Heydari to blow his whistle for a penalty in the 44th minute.

Saeed Sadeqi, probably the league’s best player in recent weeks, sent Esteghlal keeper Seyyed Hossein Hosseini the wrong way, only to see his lob bounce off the crossbar.

Things went from bad to worse for the visiting side minutes later after Yamga was brought down in the box by Hosseini’s opposite number Mohsen Forouzan.

Yamga also missed from the spot as his strike was saved by Forouzan but the Frenchman was quick to react, tapping in on the rebound.

Sadeqi made up for his miss nine minutes after the break, dribbling down the left flank before finding ex-Esteghlal striker Morteza Tabrizi, who equalized with a superb first-touch strike from the edge of the box.

Just when the two sides seemed to be heading for a draw, a moment of controversy decided the result in favor of the home side with five minutes left on the clock.

Esteghlal substitute Saeed Mehri’s effort went out off Alireza Alizadeh’s arm and, while Gol Gohar players and bench believed his body was in a normal position, the ref, after negotiating with his linesman, pointed to the spot for a third time in the game.

Yamga made no mistake this time, wrong-footing Forouzan for his 10th goal of the season.

The result extended Esteghlal’s unbeaten start to the season to a remarkable 21 games.

It also meant that Persepolis had to beat it host in the late fixture of the day to avoid further setback in its quest for a sixth successive title.

But Yahya Golmohammadi’s fell to a disastrous start to the game in Abadan, courtesy of a Hamed Lak’s blunder.

A Mohammadreza Ghobeishavi’s cross from the right flank seemed to be well dealt by the Reds’ keeper but the ball slipped through his fingers to cross the line for San’at’s opener with seven minutes into the game.

Persepolis dominated the possession and created the better of the chances through the game but lack of clinical finishing and a heroic performance by Farzin Garrousian between the posts kept the defending champion at bay on several occasions.

Mahmoud Motlaq-zadeh completed the misery for Persepolis with 20 minutes to go, finishing off the Reds with a side-footed effort from 20 yards out.

Next for Golmohammadi’s men is a visit to Naft Masjed Soleyman – second from bottom – on Friday, while Esteghlal will take on San’at Naft later in the day, before the two city rivals square off in an eagerly-awaited Tehran derby on March 17.

 

   
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