Saeed Sadeqi bagged a brace and Jürgen Locadia scored in a second successive game to help Persepolis walk away with a 3-1 victory over Havadar in the Persian Gulf Pro League.
Sepahan and Foolad Khuzestan, meanwhile, were held to draws against Zob Ahan and Mes Rafsanjan respectively to fall further off the pace in the early stages of the Iranian top flight.
New recruitments deliver
Having seen the Reds’ five-year domestic dominance come to an end at the hands of archrival Esteghlal, Persepolis manager Yahya Golmohammadi went for wholesale changes in the squad in the summer by signing a group of high-profile players in Sadeqi, Locadia, Morteza Pouraliganji, Alireza Beiranvand, Danial Esmaeilifar, Soroush Rafiei, and, most lately, former Esteghlal striker Cheick Diabaté.
But the goalless stalemates against Zob Ahan and Foolad, followed by unconvincing victories over Aluminium Arak (1-0) and San’at Naft Abadan (2-0), offered minimum signs of improvement for the Tehran-based giant.
Creative midfielders Sadeqi and Rafiei seemed to be needing some time to fit in Golmohammadi’s tactics and Locadia was clearly far from match fitness as Persepolis still looked clueless going forward for major spells of the games, though the Reds looked to have already established a solid backline by keeping four clean sheets.
However, Monday’s performance was an indication of new signings buying into the manager’s gameplan.
Three summer acquisitions combined for the Reds’ opener as Esmaeilifar played a one-two with Sadeqi and then cut the ball back to Locadia, who tapped in from close range in the 13th minute.
Sadeqi, who is getting used to playing as a right winger, doubled his team’s lead seven minutes before the break when his sizzling left-footed strike from the edge of the box went in off the post.
Ex-Golgohar player bagged his second on the hour mark, breaking through the right flank before his exquisite curling effort found the bottom corner.
Dariush Shojaeian pulled one back from the spot for the home side with eight minutes from normal time, though it proved too little too late as Persepolis remained on top of the table with 11 points.
In the Isfahan derby, Shahryar Moghanlou gave Sepahan the lead midway through the first half, only to see his goal canceled out 13 minutes later when Arman Qassemi drew Zob Ahan level from the spot as it finished 1-1 in the Foolad Shahr Stadium.
No balls crossed the goal line in Ahvaz’s Foolad Arena as Javad Nekounam’s Foolad settled for a third goalless draw in five outings, while Mes Rafsanjan is to yet to either win or lose a game this season.
Golgohar Sirjan had to wait 85 minutes to break the deadlock against a resolute Malavan side, thanks to a Majid Eidi’s own goal in Sirjan.
The 1-0 victory saw Amir Qalenoei’s men move level on nine points with Foolad.
Nassaji Mazandaran and Tractor, meanwhile, celebrated a first victory of the new campaign, courtesy of 2-0 triumphs over Mes Kerman and Aluminium Arak respectively.
Amir-Mehdi Jan-Maleki opened the scoring for Nassaji in the 71 minute and Karim Eslami sealed the three points for the home side with two minute from normal time as Hamid Motahari got off the mark in his managerial debut season.
It was also a first win for new Tractor manager Kurban Berdyev, who saw Mohammad Abbaszadeh put the visiting side in front with three minutes into the game before ex-Persepolis midfielder Reza Asadi secured the victory in the third minute of the stoppage time.
In Abadan, San’at Naft suffered a 2-1 home defeat against Naft Masjed Soleyman.
Mehdi Mamizadeh netted for the host in the 19th minute but Reza Mohajeri’s side equalized through Reza Dehqani’s 65th-minute strike and Payman Ranjbari scored his third goal of the season from the spot 10 minutes later.