News ID: 321615
Published: 1021 GMT May 15, 2022

Esteghlal seals first Iranian league title in nine years

Esteghlal seals first Iranian league title in nine years
IRNA

Esteghlal players celebrate a goal during a 2-1 victory over Foolad Khuzestan in Ahvaz, southern Iran, on May 14, 2022.

Sports Desk

Esteghlal’s 2-1 away victory over Foolad Khuzestan, coupled with Persepolis’s defeat against Sepahan by the same scoreline later on Saturday, secured a fourth Persian Gulf Pro League title for the Tehran-based Blues with three games to spare.

Amirhossein Hosseinzadeh and Saleh Hardani, who only left Foolad in midseason, bagged two second-half goals for the visiting side at the Foolad Arena before Alireza Koushki scored a consolation for the host deep into stoppage time, as Esteghlal extended the lead over its archrival to nine points, ending supporters’ nine-year wait for the title.

Farhad Majidi, who has been the last Esteghlal skipper to lift the league trophy, is now only the second manager to lead the club to the Pro League success – with all previous three coming in Amir Qalenoei’s reign.

Majidi and his men are now on course for a historic campaign as they are three games away from finishing a whole season without a defeat.

Inspired by a solid backline which has conceded only 10 goals in 27 games, Esteghlal has often been criticized for not delivering attack-minded, free-flowing performances throughout the season, but the Blues’ faithful couldn’t care less, watching their side bring Persepolis’s five-year dominance over the Iranian league to an end.

Yahya Golmohammadi’s men stepped onto the pitch at Sirjan’s Shahid Soleimani Stadium – a neutral venue picked for the game following last season’s quarrel involving the two sets of players – knowing that only a win would keep their slim hope for a sixth successive title alive.

Mohammad Nejad-Mehdi and ex-Esteghlal striker Sajjad Shahbaz-Zadeh scored either side of the interval to leave third-placed Sepahan on the way to a first win against its fierce rival since September 2019.

Ali Nemati pulled one back for Golmohammadi’s men with seven minutes left on the clock but it proved too little too late as a third defeat of the season marked the twilight of a half-decade era for the Reds, which also included two AFC Champions League final spots, a 2019 domestic double, and four Iranian Super Cup titles.

The result saw Sepahan close the gap on Persepolis to two points, boosting the Isfahan-based club’s chances for a second consecutive runner-up finish in the league – a relieving conclusion to a season which saw Sepahan exit the AFC Champions League in April’s group phase.

 

   
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