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Hoopla, hype for nothing: Persepolis and Esteqlal in a tie

By Kambakhsh Khalaji

Tehran, Oct 23, IRNA -- Weeks of ballyhoo and plug for an insipid derby. Some 80,000 partisan fans preferred cold rain-drenched stands in Azadi Stadium to their cozy homes to watch the traditional derby between the Reds and the Blues in an autumn Friday.

photo: ISNA

Promises of Persepolis and Esteqlal players and coaches proved blatant promotion as the two capital-based sides played a cagey, foul-prone, uneventful football in the sixth week of the fourth Iran Pro League.

photo: ISNA

Few moments were worthy of watching in the eagerly-awaited derby.

Esteqlal skipper Mahmoud Fekri fired a cannonball from a 40-yard distance in the 25th minute, which was defused by the Reds' in-form keeper Mohammad Mohammadi.

Millions of spectators' hopes were dashed as the game after the restart did not considerably change.

photo: ISNA

Persepolis midfielder Aref Mohammadvand drilled in an Ebrahim Assadi low pass through the crowded area and past inches from the far post on 63 minutes.

Bench-warmer Mehrdad Owladi, who secured a victory for the Reds over Shamoushak last week with a last-gasp header, was thrown on by German manager Rainer Zobel.

photo: ISNA

The striker cleared Esteqlal defenders Pirouz Qorbani and Davoud Haqdoust behind the box on 70 minutes to force an incomplete save by the Blues' goalie with a fierce shot, whose rebound was tapped in by forward Reza Jabbari.

But Jabbari and the Reds in the dugout and stands stopped celebrating when the German referee Florian Meyer ruled out the opener as the striker was flagged offside by the linesman Carsten Cadach.

Once the backbone of national team, the popular sides failed to break the deadlock in the last 20 minutes and the game ended in stalemate.

Esteqlal retained the second spot in the table on 12 points and Persepolis was placed in the eighth slot on eight points.

... Payvand News - 10/25/04 ... --

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