Mehr News – Esteqlal of Tehran toppled Pas in the 22nd week of the third Iran Pro League as it fought back to beat the visitor Fajr-e Sepassi 3-2 in a nail-biting game here Monday.
Fajr of Shiraz, capital of southern Fars Province, squandered a two-goal advantage, letting the resurgent blues hit three to add badly-needed three points to their asset, standing top on 44 points.
The visitor got off to a dream start when Siavash Akbarpur put it ahead after just 57 seconds.
Akbarpur sent a Mehrzad Ma’danchi cross past Esteqlal keeper Vahid Taleblu while many fans were still taking their seats.
Esteqlal was dealt another blow in the 15th minute when Fajr striker Ali Alizadeh dived to head home a curling cross into the area by Rezaei.
Not to be humiliated, the capital’s blues left the visitor spellbound with a mesmerizing display of attacking football.
Fajr patted keeper Mahdi Rahmati on the back for his near-miraculous saving and palming away a handful of dangerous goal-bound kicks and headers during Esteqlal’s stormy blitzes in 17-35 minutes.
The home team was also denied on 38 minutes when Yadollah Akbari dribbling past two defenders and Rahmati in area had his kick sent back by Hosseini in the goalmouth.
Esteqlal at last minimized the gap three minutes before the interval when Davud Seyed Abbassi cleared two markers, steering the ball between Rahmati’s legs from close range.
The popular team of Esteqlal came close to equalizer two minutes later but out-of-sort striker Ali Samereh dillydallied, hitting the ball against the slipping defender.
Akbari triggered the celebrations in the 100,000-seater Azadi stadium, securing parity three minutes into the second half.
Eyeing the top spot, Esteqlal heaped more pressure on Fajr woodwork until substitute Faraz Fatemi was first to a loose ball in the penalty area to rifle an unstoppable drive past the hapless Rahmati.
Fajr was not dead yet however and only the crossbar prevented it from leveling the match in the 89th minute.
Alizadeh cupped his face with his hands as his left ferocious kick from close range rattled the crossbar and the blues’ camp.
Visitor Abu Moslem held leader Pas to a 1-1 draw earlier on Monday.
Pas, which needed a victory to retain its top place fought back to level the 22nd-week opening match on the pitch of Shahid Dastgerdi stadium, west of Tehran.
The two sides played an uneventful football before the break as Pas had goal-thirsty striker Arash Borhani off the field and the Mashhad-based black-clad Abu Moslem lacked scoring instinct.
Abu Moslem broke the deadlock nine minutes after the restart by Iman Razzaqi, who converted a spot kick.
Pas defender Kianoush Rahmati upended Mojtaba Jabbari inches inside the penalty area, leaving the referee Rahim Rahimi-Moqaddam with no option but to award the spot kick.
Abbas Aqaei tested the visitor’s in-form keeper Mahdi Sabeti with a goal-bound header in the 58th minute, which was saved with a perfect dive.
Razzaqi came close to his own and side’s second on 67 minutes, unleashing a powerful angled drive sizzling past the far post.
Khodadad Azizi played his role again six minutes before the normal time, stealing a ball in the box and sent a left cross for the advancing midfielder Javad Nekunam, who stretched to sent the ball past Sabeti in a goalmouth melee.
Referee was the target of Pas players in the stoppage time when Aqaei was sent tumbling by Abu Moslem goalie but Rahimi-Moqaddam did not show the spot.
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