Mohammad Abbaszadeh scored his third goal of the season and Mohammadreza Akhbari saved a late penalty as Tractor walked away with a 1-0 victory over Persepolis at the Persian Gulf Pro League – a first win for the northwestern Iranian club over the Reds in more than three years.
Tractor had last beaten its opponent by one goal in Tabriz in August 2019, while Sunday’s result ended the club’s eight-year wait for a win over Persepolis at the Azadi Stadium.
A boring first half finished goalless, with Tractor’s Mehdi Hashemnejad finding the best chance, when his strike from inside the box was cleared by goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand.
Abbaszadeh and Jürgen Locadia went close to break the deadlock for both sides after the break, only to hit the woodwork, before the two were involved in Tractor’s winner with 15 minutes from normal time.
Gustavo was first to the ball on a Locadia’s ill-fated cross inside his own half and the Brazilian’s first-touch through ball found Abbaszadeh, who saw his initial effort dealt by Beiranvand but remained composed to find the net on the rebound.
Mehdi Torabi capped off a miserable afternoon for Yahya Golmohammadi’s side by missing from the spot late in the game.
Akhbari reacted furiously to referee Mo’oud Bonyadifar’s controversial decision to penalize Mohammad Hosseini for his challenge on Mehdi Abdi, but still kept his composure to deny Torabi in the 88th minute as Tractor kept a fourth successive clean sheet and moved to within five points off the top of the table.
Golmohammadi’s men still remained the league leaders but the first defeat of the season meant that they now edge archrival Esteghlal only by goal difference.
Elsewhere, Sepahan also cut the deficit on top to two points, thanks to a 2-1 victory over Havadar in Tehran.
Mohammad-Javad Mohammadi gave the home side the lead with six minutes into the game but Omid Nourafkan drew Sepahan level with a sublime diving header on a Ramin Rezaeian’s free-kick.
Rezaeian then bagged the winner from the spot in the dyeing minutes of the first half as Jose Morais’s side ended a run of four matches without a victory.
In Abadan, Mirhadi Mirjavan’s 72nd-minute equalizer for San’at Naft canceled out Mehrdad Rezaei’s first-half opener as the home side, in Firouz Karimi’s first game in charge, shared the points with Mes Rafsanjan.