TEHRAN, July 3 (MNA) – Referee Fereydun Esfahanian Saturday blamed Esteqlal of Tehran for the chaos in the first-leg final of the League Cup in Naqsh-e Jahan stadium in Isfahan, central Iran, on July 2.

The home team, Sepahan, collected three points as it beat the blue-clad Esteqlal 3-2 amid bust-up and scuffle on and off the field.



Supported by passionate fans in the semifinished stadium, Sepahan took the lead in the 10th minute when Leon Estepanian curled a free-kick past out-of-sort Esteqlal keeper

Massud Qassemi.


Blues in the stands unrolled their flags 17 minutes later as Yadollah Akbari collected a well-flighted cross from Farzad Majidi in the area, beating Sepahan goalie Kamil Susko in a man-to-man challenge.


The match turned sour on 35 minutes when the fourth judge stopped the game to report to the referee Esfahanian that Esteqlal manager Amir Qal'e-Noei addressing the linesman had used foul language.


Qal'e-Noei and some blue officials invaded the pitch after Esfahanian ordered Esteqlal head coach to quit the field.


Supervisor referee Ebrahim Mirza-Beigi said there was nothing wrong with the expulsion of Qal'e-Noei and he was sent off according to the FIFA regulations.


Esfahanian told Mehr everything was going well but Qal’e-Noei’s accusation and blue Esteqlal officials’ baseless protests encouraged melee in the last moments of the game.


The situation was aggravated for Esteqlal in the 56th minute when the blues' full-back Mohammad Khorramgah headed home an Estepanian cross.


Striker Gholamreza Enayati triggered celebrations among blue fans and a scuffle between a Sepahan official and Qal'e-Noei and his associate in the stand on 80 minutes when he scored the equalizer with a header.


Qal'e-Noei, who steered his side from the VIP stand was opposed and then punched by a Sepahan official, identified as Keshavarz, prompting the police to rush to the scene and control the violence.


But it was a "freaky Friday" for Esteqlal as the yellows grabbed the controversial winner, leaving a bitter taste on the blues' palate.


Substitute Seyyed Morteza Hashemizadeh poured cold water on blues' camp three minutes from time, firing home a pass from Saeid Ramezani.


Esteqlal players and officials believed Hashemizadeh was offside while the referee said his linesman had confirmed the goal.


The two sides play the second leg on the manicured pitch of the 100,000-seater Azadi stadium in western Tehran on July 7.


Esteqlal and Sepahan were to play the return game on July 6 but the match was rescheduled and slated for Wednesday.





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