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A 96th minute winner from Sepehr Heidari gave Persepolis the 2008 Iranian title on Saturday afternoon amid extraordinary scenes at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran.

On a day of pure drama, the Tehran giants defeated leaders Sepahan 2-1 to become champions of Iran for the first time since 2003.

With the game almost over, Heidari rose in the middle of a crowded penalty box to head home and send 110,000 fans in the famous arena into a frenzy.

Persepolis, who started the day two points behind their opponents, attacked from the start and took the lead in style after 17 minutes.

Mohsen Khalili chested the ball down just outside the area and volleyed home with a shot that gave Masound Hemami in the Sepahan goal no chance.

The Iranian striker smacked a shot against the underside of the Sepahan crossbar four minutes later when through on goal. Karim Bagheri headed the rebound over the bar.

Persepolis were rueing that miss when Sepahan equalised after 28 minutes. Ehsan Hajsafi was fed with a long ball over the top of the Reds defence and the teenager advanced into the area and slotted the ball coolly home.

The hosts spent most of the second half camped out in the Sepahan half but were unable to break down the Sepahan defence until the last seconds.

The ball spun off Heidari’s head and looped over Masoud Hemami and into the top corner of the Sepahan goal to spark pandemonium.

It is the eighth title for Persepolis and a first for coach Afshin Ghotbi in his first season with the club.

John Duerden

Asia Editor  

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