Kuwait City: Kuwait and Iran edged ahead of Lebanon in Group B of the 2015 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers after the two sides played out a 1-1 draw at the Kuwait SC Stadium on Tuesday.
Despite being on the back foot for much of the first half, the visitors took the lead just before half-time when Mesoud Shojaei capitalised on some sloppy defending to put his side ahead.
But Kuwait stepped up the pressure in the second half and they rewarded when Fahad Awad kept his cool to convert from the penalty spot with 14 minutes left.
The result meant that both sides moved up to four points, one ahead of Lebanon, who downed Thailand 5-2 in their Group B match in Beirut last Friday. Iran lead the section on goal difference after they trounced Lebanon 5-0 in their opener while Kuwait only managed a 3-1 away win in Thailand.
Playing their first home game of the qualifiers, Kuwait began the match well and they had a number of chances to break the deadlock in the first half as Hamad Al Enezi and Bader Al Mutwas missed good opportunities.
Having failed to make the most of their chances, the hosts were stunned when Iran took the lead right at the end of the first half.
Ashkan Dejagah made a strong run down the right flank but his cut-back from the byline appeared to be too close to goalkeeper Nawaf Al Khaldi, who sprawled on the floor to gather the ball. However, it slipped loose from his grasp and defender Hussain Fadhel’s weak clearance only went as far as Mojtaba Jabari, who crashed his shot against the angle of post and crossbar.
The ball rebounded to Mesoud Shojaei who volleyed it back towards the Kuwait goal where Al Khaldi made a valiant effort to stop the effort but could not prevent it from crossing the goalline.
Iran tried to defend their lead after the interval and they frustrated the Kuwaitis until the home side were awarded a penalty in the 76th minute for a foul on Abdulhadi Khamee by captain Javad Nekounam.
Fahad Awad made no mistake from the spot, sending Iran goalkeeper Mohammad Davari the wrong way to ensure that honours were shared between the two sides.