- Published on Friday, 15 November 2013 22:50
Bangkok: Three-time AFC Asian Cup winners Iran took a big step towards qualification for the 2015 finals in Australia with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Thailand on Friday.
The Asian powerhouses, who have already booked their passage to the 2014 FIFA World Cup, outclassed the home side at a steamy Rajamangala Stadium with goals from Ashkan Dejagah, Reza Ghoochannejhad and Alireza Jahanbakhsh
And the victory took unbeaten Iran to 10 points two games remaining in Group B, with Thailand still without a point and facing almost certain elimination.
“We go to Lebanon next week with 10 points which was our goal. I think it will be enough to qualify for the Asian Cup finals,” said Iran coach Carlos Queiroz.
“It was a good game for us tonight, especially in the first half. We were 2-0 up and had control of the game after 45 minutes.
“We slowed down a bit in the second half and played with less energy and speed. My players know there is a long trip to Lebanon.
“We came here with the right attitude, very professional. I am very happy with the attitude of my players.”
Thailand had a huge let off after just seven minutes with Iran defender Pejman Montazeri – up for a free-kick – scooping the ball into the grateful arms of Thai goalkeeper Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakool from just six yards.
Iran looked by far the more potent force and Sinthaweechai did well to parry a good effort from midfielder Mojtaba Jabari in the 27th minute.
But the opener was delayed by just a minute with Fulham’s Dejagah, who had been a constant menace down the right wing, finding the target with a well-struck shot from the edge of the penalty area.
Iran continued to press and added a second in the 43rd minute with striker Ghoochannejhad taking advantage of poor defending by Thailand to lift the ball past Sinthaweechai.
Thailand battled for every ball but had no answer to the guile and pace of Iran and failed to create a single clear-cut chance in the first half.
Iran lacked the same intensity in the second half allowing the Thais to be more adventurous and substitute Datsakorn Thonglao – surprisingly left out of the starting line-up – forced goalkeeper Mohammad Davari into his first real save in the 73rd minute.
But after Thailand substitute Phawadon Suwanchart was sent-off in injury time, Iran rubbed salt into the host’s wounds with Jahanbakhsh scoring his side’s third goal.
“My players were not so fresh tonight and faced a lot of stress. Physically and tactically they were way ahead of us. We must develop and improve our tactics and technique,” said Thailand coach Surachai Jaturapattarapong.
“The next generation of players must develop these skills otherwise we will not get better.
“We will play for pride in the final two games and we will be looking to win them both.”