0152 GMT September 19, 2019
A sole second-half goal by Iranian international Mehdi Torabi saw three time defending champion Persepolis get off to a winning start at the Persian Gulf Pro League.
The Iranian Reds, who had Argentine Gabriel Calderon as the new manager on their bench after four trophy-laden seasons with Croatian Branko Ivankovic, started where they left off last season, beating Pars Jonoubi Jam 1-0 at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium on Thursday – the same scoreline Persepolis pulled off in the reverse fixture on the last matchday of last season to secure a third successive title.
Clear-cut chances were few and far between in a low-tempo first half with Mohammad Naderi missing the best chance for the Reds when an Omid Alishah’s cross found the fullback unmarked in the box before his effort went wide.
Calderon’s man still felt lucky to keep a clean-sheet before the interval as Pars Jonoubi’s Mehdi Torkaman’s well-taken free-kick hit the cross bar.
Persepolis had to wait until the 58th minute for their first goal of the season when Ali Alipour’s pass found Torabi on the edge of the six-yard box and the 24-year-old chipped the ball past Brazilian keeper Fernando de Jesus.
Also on the first day of the new season, Ebrahim Sadeqi’s Saipa, trailing 2-0 by the hour mark, scored three goals inside 13 minutes to beat Zob Ahan 3-2 in Isfahan.
Mohammad-Reza Soleymani scored either side of Moein Abbasian’s brilliant equalizer to cancel goals by Macauley Chrisantus and Hamid Buhamdan.
Elsewhere, title contender Tractor Tabriz with new head coach, veteran Turkish Mustafa Denizli, was held to a goalless away draw at Naft Masjed Soleyman.
Newly-promoted Gol-Gohar Sirjan and Nassaji Mazandaran also shared the spoils with a 1-1 draw in Sirjan.