TEHRAN (Iran News) – The final day of the Persian Gulf Pro League season saw Foolad Khuzestan book a place in next year’s AFC Champions League (ACL) as a 1-0 home victory over Tractor on Thursday gave Javad Nekounam’s men a well-deserved third-spot finish.
Aref Aqasi scored the all-important winner in the seventh minute as the southern Iranian club – fifth in the table prior to the game – overtook Tractor and Sepahan – which was held to a 1-1 draw at Paykan – for the final berth in the Asian elite club competition.
Tractor, however, has a second chance of securing a place in the Champions League through Hazfi Cup, where the Tabriz-based side takes on Naft Masjed Soleyman in the semifinals on Tuesday, with archrivals Persepolis and Esteghlal playing the other last-four tie.
Should either one of Persepolis, Esteghlal, or Tractor win the cup, Saket Elhami’s side will be handed an ACL place.
Meanwhile, a 1-0 defeat against Naft Masjed Soleyman meant that Pars Jonoubi Jam joined other Bushehr-based club Shahin Shahrdari in relegation to the Iranian football second tier.
Omid Singh scored in the 88th-minute to dash former club’s slight hope of survival.
The result also secured Paykan and Saipa – which both failed to win on the final day – a place in next season’s top flight.
Ebrahim Sadeqi’s Saipa was beaten 3-0 at the hands of champion Persepolis, courtesy of goals by Vahid Amiri, Christian Osaguona, and Ali Alipour.
The victory meant that Yahya Golmohammadi’s men, in a season that they clinched a record-fourth consecutive title, also set a new record for most wins in a season (21).
The Reds also equaled the highest points-tally of a single campaign (67), a figure which only Sepahan had reached in the 18-team 2011-12 season.
Elsewhere, Cheick Diabaté put a fitting end to his impressive debut season by scoring a brace in Esteghlal’s 4-1 win at Shahin, helping Farhad Majidi’s Blues to a runner-up finish.
Malian striker scored 15 goals in a stellar campaign for the Golden Boot Award – finishing two goals clear of Paykan’s Shahryar Moghanlou.
- source : Iran Daily