IRN 1-0 JOR - Iran stay top Print
Saturday, 14 November 2009 21:10
TEHRAN – Iran remained top of Group E after Javad Nekounam's second-half header settled a hard-fought AFC Asian Cup qualifying encounter with 10-man Jordan.
Nekounam met Andranik Teymourian's cross after 72 minutes to secure a 1-0 victory in what was an attritional encounter at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran, while the visitors were reduced to 10 men when Mahmoud Shalbaeih picked up a second yellow card shortly after falling behind.
The only real highlight of a goalless first-half came in the 23rd minute when a Jordanian attack down the left culminated in captain Hassouneh Sheikh Qassem's pass to Amer Deeb at the far post.
But Deeb shot against Iranian defender Ehsan Hajsafi and the home side cleared the danger.
Chances were again at a premium after the break and Karim Ansarifard's shot that flew wide after he had cut in from the right was the only action of note for Iran in the first hour.
Shalbaieh fired over in the 70th minute in Jordan's only attack of note in the second-half before the hosts did break the deadlock with 18 minutes to go.
Mehrzad Madanchi touched a free-kick on the left to Fulham midfielder Teymourian (pictured) and his cross was met by Nekounam, who came through a crowded penalty area to claim his 24th international goal.
A minute later, Jordan were reduced to 10 men when veteran forward Shelbaieh received a second yellow card for lashing out at Khosro Heidari with his elbow and after that, Iran had a number of goal scoring chances.
After 78 minutes, 19-year-old Saipa striker Ansarifard was off-target with a header following good build-up play by Madanchi and half-time substitute Mohammadreza Khalatbari.
Seven minutes later Teymourian's fierce drive had to be gathered at the second attempt by Jordanian keeper Amer Shafi as Iran threatened to add to their lead.
The result means that with three matches to go in Group E, they are two points clear of Thailand on seven, with Singapore third on three points and Jordan bottom, two points further back.
Iran next face Jordan on November 22 at the King Abdullah Stadium.