Nov 9 (Reuters) – Iran beat Panama 2-1 in a friendly in Graz, Austria on Thursday, in a match-up of two teams who have qualified for next year’s World Cup in Russia.
Iran took the lead in the 16th minute with a penalty from Ashkan Dejagah after a wild, sliding challenge from Jan Vargas on Karim Ansarifard.
Three minutes later the Iranians doubled their advantage when Saman Ghoddos finished off a swift break down the left, cutting inside and firing home a right-foot shot. It was a clinical finish and first goal scored by the Swedish-born Ghoddos for Team Melli after his invitation to the team by Queiroz
Panama pulled a goal back in the 39th minute, also from the penalty spot, with Gabriel Torres converting after Rouzbeh Chesmi was harshly ruled to have fouled Armando Cooper.
Team Melli played a well-balanced game plan and manged to control the proceedings in the first half. Most of the junior members of the team performed well in this tough test. Ahmad Abdollahzadeh was outstanding in the midfield while the central defence consisting of Rouzbeh Cheshmi and Pouraliganji hardly allowed the Panamanians any significant chances. The Penalty, which should have never been called, marred the clean record.
Overall, the referee was inconsistent in his decisions and not up to a high standard.
The second half saw a stalemate while the under-strength Panamanians ventured more and gained confidence. Carlos Queiroz made subsitituted 6 players in the second half. Sardar Azmoun replaced Taremi and his introduction energized Iran’s offences.
Iran will be playing in their fifth World Cup next year while Panama have qualified for the first time.
The next match for Team Melli will be against Venezuela on Monday.