Esteghlal edged bottom-side Shahr Khodro 1-0 at home to restore a six-point lead over Persepolis on top of the Persian Gulf Pro League table.
The Tehran-based Blues’ fans had to wait until the 88th minute at the Azadi Stadium when ex-Persepolis striker Arman Ramezani was first to the ball on a rebound to break down a resolute Shahr Khodro side.
Ramezani missed a title celebration with Persepolis last season after leaving the Reds for their archrival midway through the season, having failed to score in nine appearances for the club.
With four league games to spare, Ramezani’s strike has now left Esteghlal on course to lift a first league trophy since 2013, bringing an end to its rival’s five-year dominance over the Iranian league.
Monday’s win for Esteghlal came after Persepolis’s slip earlier in the day as the reigning champion was held to a 1-1 draw against Zob Ahan in Isfahan.
Yahya Golmohammadi’s men were stunned by a Saeed Baqerpasand’s header with only two minutes into the game but still managed to salvage a point, thanks to Uzbek striker Sherzod Temirov’s first goal for the club in the second period.
Third-placed Sepahan walked away with a 1-0 victory over Paykan, courtesy of Mohammadreza Hosseini’s strike with 20 minutes left on the clock, to close the gap on Persepolis to five points before the two sides square off in Sirjan – confirmed by the Reds as the host city for the game – on Saturday.
Tractor came from behind twice to beat Havadar 3-2 at home, with Mohammad Abbaszadeh, who missed a spot-kick in the first half, bagging a brace in the second.
The result saw the Tabriz-based club move seven points clear from the relegation zone.
In the battle of the strugglers, Fajr Sepasi, second from bottom, and Naft Masjed Soleyman settled for a goalless stalemate in Shiraz as the two sides remained separated by two points.
Gol Gohar Sirjan and Mes Rafsanjan came out victorious by similar 2-0 scoreline against Hazfi Cup finalists Aluminium Arak and Nassaji Mazandaran respectively.
Elsewhere, center-back Mohammad Tayyebi put the ball into the back of his own net in the 85th minute to hand fourth-placed Foolad Khuzestan a 1-0 away win against San’at Naft Abadan.