Khorramshahr – Defending Hazfi Cup Champions Zob Ahan took on Esteghlal Tehran in the Final of the Hazfi Cup on 29 May at Khorramshahr Stadium.
Twenty minutes into the match, Zob Ahan took the lead when midfielder Danial Esmaeilifar took a left-footed shot from just outside the penalty area that made its way past Esteghlal keeper Mehdi Rahmati.
The shot from Esmaeilifar was deflected on the way towards the net. Rahmati did his best to stop the shot as he dove to his right. The ball actually bounced off the post as Rahmati was coming to a stop. Rahmati had the chance to corral the ball but his momentum made it difficult for him to save the ball. Rahmati did get his hand on the ball but the ball crossed over the goal line to give Zob Ahan a 1-0 lead.
The goal was officially scored as an own-goal but in all honesty I think it makes more sense to give the goal to Danial Esmaeilifar. Either way, Zob Ahan took the lead and Mehdi Rahmati was visibly upset after the goal.
Later in the half, Esteghlal midfielder Omid Ebrahimi’s free kick from well outside the penalty area was saved nicely by Zob Ahan keeper Mohammad Rashid Mazaheri.
Ten minutes into the second half, Esteghlal were awarded a penalty kick when Yaghoub Karimi was fouled in the penalty area.
Omid Ebrahimi perfectly placed his shot into the corner to tie the game at 1-1. The score remained the same after ninety minutes and the match went into extra time.
Late in the second part of extra time, tempers flared a bit when Zob Ahan defender Walid Ismail pulled the shirt of Esteghlal midfielder Alireza Ramezani while trying to go for the ball. Ramezani was very upset and proceeded to shove Ismail. Both players were booked by the referee; It was clear that both teams wanted the win badly.
Minutes later Arash Borhani beat the Zob Ahan offside trap and waited for a long ball right in front of the goal. It was the perfect opportunity for Borhani to give Esteghlal the win but his header went over the bar. The score remained 1-1 after extra time; therefore a penalty shootout would decide the winner of the Hazfi Cup.
Both teams were perfect after three rounds of penalty kicks. As always in a shootout, everyone was wondering which player would make the first mistake.
Alireza Ramezani had his kick saved by Mazaheri in the fourth round of kicks. Next for Zob Ahan, Mohammad Reza Hosseini kept his cool and put his shot down the middle as Rahmati dove to his right. Zob Ahan led 4-3 on penalties after four rounds.
The pressure was on Yaghoub Karimi but he made his penalty to put the pressure back on Zob Ahan.
Defender Hadi Mohammadi scored the winning penalty as Zob Ahan won their second consecutive Hazfi Cup Title. The victory for Zob Ahan mean they have clinched a spot in the group stage of the 2017 AFC Champions League.