Esteghlal Meli-Sanati Khuzestan Football Club, commonly known as Esteghlal Khuzestan, has won the championship of Iran’s Persian Gulf Pro League, formerly known as Iran Pro League (IPL), following a well-deserved victory over Isfahan-based Zob Ahan.
Despite the presence of a large number of fervent spectators, the first half of the Friday evening’s match at multi-purpose Ghadir Stadium in the southwestern city of Ahvaz ended in a goalless draw.
Esteghlal Khuzestan’s 28-year-old striker Rahim Mehdi Zohaivi finally opened the scoring eleven minutes after the break.
Zohaivi doubled the hosts’ lead in the 59th minute; and Esteghlal Khuzestan took the whole three points of the game to claim the championship.
Esteghlal Khuzestan overtook Persepolis Football Club of Tehran on goal difference at the top of the Persian Gulf Pro League.
Persepolis went all out for a crushing victory against Rah Ahan Yazdan Football Club, another Tehran-based soccer team, at Tehran's Azadi Stadium on Friday evening.
The first half was a particularly drab affair with both sides cautious and defensive and neither producing any real opportunity.
After the breather, the red-clad Persepolis footballers played with more vigor and valor, and heaped pressure on the opponents’ goalpost, and shook off Rah Ahan defenders to dribble into the penalty area and get very close to netting the opener.
Persepolis was awarded a penalty in the 81st minute and defender Ramin Rezaeian converted the good chance. Midfielder Ahmad Nourollahi grasped a scoring opportunity three minutes later and put Persepolis 2-0 ahead.
Persepolis’ chances of further widening the lead were reduced in the 89th minute though as Mehrdad Mohammadi tacked Rah Ahan’s consolation goal.
With the 1-2 loss against Persepolis, Rah Ahan Yazdan Football Club was relegated to the Azadegan League, which is also called the 1st Division. It is the second-highest division league in the Iranian football league system after the Persian Gulf Pro League.
In another Friday evening match, Esteghlal Tehran Football Club was held to a 1-1 draw against Sabaye Qom Football Club at Yadegar Emam Stadium in Qom, and claimed the third spot in the Persian Gulf Pro League table.
Striker Mohammadi Ghazi netted Sabaye Qom’s goal in the 28th minute. Esteghlal midfielder Omid Ebrahimi netted a penalty five minutes later and drew level with Tehrani rivals.