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Persepolis and Esteqlal draw 1-1 before 100,000 football fans in Tehran

By Kambakhsh Khalaji

TEHRAN, Oct. 14 (Mehr News Agency) - The 63rd derby between Persepolis and Esteqlal ended in stalemate in Tehran on Sunday.

Pacesetter Persepolis and mid-table Esteqlal split the points before some 100,000 partisan fans in the Azadi Stadium, fighting to a 1-1 tie in the ninth week of the seventh Iran Pro League.

Striker Mohsen Khalili, top scorer of the league, failed to find the net as Esteqlal keeper Vahid Taleblu blocked his left drive in the 16th minute.

Persepolis players and aficionados stopped celebrating the opener nine minutes later when Spanish referee Eduardo Inturralde Gonzalez ruled out forward Alireza Nikbakht-Vahedi's goal for a handball.

The blue-clad Esteqlal squandered the best chance one minute from the interval, with new signing Arash Borhani failing to beat Persepolis goalie Hassan Rudbarian in a man-to-man challenge.

The old foes shifted from cagey to crowd-pleasing attack-minded football in the second half.

Playing on the left flank, Persepolis midfielder Pejman Nuri forced a dive from Taleblu with a powerful 35-yard drive on 56 minutes, but it was Esteqlal that took the lead one minute later. Omid Ravankhah unleashed a 30-yard cannonball past Rudbarian, sending almost 50,000 die-hard supporters into ecstasy.

Skipper Karim Baqeri chested down a Nuri cross in the 74th minute before he was denied by in-form Taleblu from close range.

The Blues were getting ready for celebration, but Khalili gatecrashed their party, finding himself on the score sheet six minutes from normal time. Right winger Shayth Rezaii curled a delightful cross in the box drilled in with a Khalili header.

Persepolis retained the top spot with 21 points and Esteqlal jumped from 12th to 11th slot on meager 10 points.

See more pictures on ISNA's site.

... Payvand News - 10/15/07 ... --

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