Iran’s Team Melli defeated Qatar 1-0 in Doha in the 6th round of the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifiers. The only goal was scored in the 52nd minute by Mehdi Taremi from a brilliant assist by Karim Ansarifard.
Earlier in the day China beat second place Korea Rep 1-0 while Syria shocked Uzbekistan with the same result in Malaysia. Iran’s win opened a 4 points gap at the top.
The first half ended goal less draw.
Despite the general tendency of Queiroz to focus on a defensive side of the game , the Portuguese coach surprised many by fielding an offensive side with three forwards up front, Azmoun, Taremi and Ansarifard. This line up supported by Jahanbakhash on the flank managed to put a lot of pressure on the host team from the early stages of the match. It must also caught the Qatar coach Jorge Fossati by surprise.
Two golden opportunities that went to waste were when Azmoun penetration resulted in confusion among Qatar defenders and the goalkeeper and ending in Ansarifard shooting directly at the goalkeeper Saad Alsheeb who parried and saved.
The other chance ended in Azmoun hitting close range acute angle shoot that was saved by Qatari keeper. Other chances were also created by the well-disciplined Team Melli.
The second half must be labelled as the half of wasted chances. Team Melli created chance after chance and a score of 5-0 would not have been too far-fetched. The half started well when the vision of Karim Ansarifard and his quick thinking , put Taremi in a perfect scoring position. Karim’s long ball just inside Qatar’s half split the Qatari defence and found Taremi in ample space for him to control the ball in style. The Persepolis striker cool finishing was a delight to watch . 1-0 to Iran
The rest of the match was mainly controlled by Team Melli whose midfield was surprisingly supreme despite the lack of experienced players. Ezatollahie and Hajsafy were forming the makeshift midfield with Jahanbakhsh , did a fine job and maintained a strong defensive presense. Jahanbakhask , who seemed to forget his shooting boot, missed a couple of good chances while Hajsafy was one on one but failed to beat the Qatari keeper.
Overall , Team Melli was well-drilled, played a balanced game, and deserved the three points. The next 3 points against China , well certainly mean that Team Melli is almost there in Moscow come 2018.