Category: Match Reports

Jordan 1-3 Iran: Match report.

Iran’s Team Melli defeated Jordan 3-1 on Friday evening to reach the final of the 4 nations international tournament and set up an interesting encounter against Qatar coached by the former Team Melli coach, Carlos Queiroz.

Iran opened the scoring early when Mehdi Taremi fed a nice through ball to his partner Sardar Azmoun, who nicely side-footed the ball into the net in the 8th minute. Taremi scored the second from a brilliant pass from the right flank by Ramin Rezaeian which the Porto striker placed on the far side of the Jordanian keeper.

In the first half, Iran did not face much of a problem distributing the ball with ease and patience, however, in the process, some easy chances were also missed by the Iranians due to some poor finishing and overconfidence.

The second half was totally different story. Jordan was the better team by far while Iran crumbled and the defense was leaky. The middle of the field was totally taken over by the hosts and if it was not for the poor finishing of the Jordanian players, Team Melli would have been a few goals behind.

Team Melli’s poor defensive play, with suspect marking, combined with Jordanian players’ determination to show themselves as a better team than the result suggested, eventually paid dividends as Jordan scored in the 74th minute from a horrible blunder by Saeid Esatollahi and Kananizadegan. After the goal, Jordan pressed on, leaving the Iranians nervous and in disarray which led Ghalenoei’s players to resort to long balls and hasty clearances. It is safe to say that the second half was one of the worst teams Melli performances in many years.

Jordan’s pressure eventually paid off as a soft penalty was declared by the Saudi referee late in the second half. Jordan’s Ehsan Haddad’s right foot kick from the spot went airborne and was nowhere near the goal. It was indeed a bad spot kick and consistent with Jordan’s performance as a set of talented players who have great problems shooting straight and finishing.

And as Jordan was still hoping for a late equalizer leading to penalty kicks to decide the winner, in came Mehrda Mohammad a substitute in injury time to score the third for Team Melli with a pretty good-looking chip over the Jordanian keeper. Cheshmi provided Mohammadi with the ball from a long clearance.

This was yet another win for the undefeated Ghalenoei, but one doubts that he was proud of his player’s performance this evening. There were more negatives than positives in this game for Iran. Not that Qatar will be a great threat on the 17th when they play in the final match, but this type of performance, leaves a lot to be desired and reduces the faith of the fans to be a leading title contender comes January 2024 in the AFC Asian Cup 2023. As of now, and with such a scruffy display, Iran’s chances to win the AFC Asian Cup is relegated to the third or fourth level, while Japan remains the top favorite.

Lots of work needs to be done. The midfield was embarrassing, the normally dependable defense was falling apart and the two stars at the froing were the saving grace, although both were far from their best.

Futsal Team Melli on a roll, defeats Thailand in the semifinals.

Iran breezed to a 5-0 win over Thailand in their AFC Futsal Asian Cup™ Kuwait 2022 semi-final on Thursday.
The win took Iran to within one match of lifting the title for a record-extending 13th time with Japan – the only other team to have won the coveted crown – awaiting them in Saturday’s final.
Iran enjoyed the best of starts as they opened the scoring as early as the first minute when skipper Hossein Tayyebi collected goalkeeper Saeid Momeni’s long-range pass at the edge of the box to smash home his 10th goal of the tournament.
Despite the early setback, Thailand kept their cool and carried on with their game plan, luring Iran into their own half before launching crosses into the final third, but the defending champions were quick on their feet to protect Momeni’s goalmouth.

Iran, however, were the more dangerous side and nearly doubled their lead in the sixth minute when a series of quick exchanges in the box baffled the Thai defence, but Mohammadhossein Bazyar couldn’t get his strike on target.
Charoondej Muenthiang, one of Thailand’s key players with his speed, had several efforts but none troubled Momeni.

At the other end, Thailand custodian Katawut Hankampa denied Tayebi and Mohammadhossein Derakhshani in the closing minutes of the first half to keep his team in the match going into the break.
Iran stepped up a gear in the second half and doubled their lead in the 22nd minute with Derakhshani heading home Salar Aghapour’s cross from close range.

Two turned to three in the 24th minute when Alireza Rafiei Pour intercepted a pass, before teeing up Moslem Oladghobad (pictured below), who scored from almost 20 meters out.
Thailand should have pulled one back three minutes later when Muenthiang collected a loose ball before sending it to Jetsada Chudech who – with only the keeper to beat – slammed his effort straight into Momeni.

Iran were not as wasteful and they found their fourth in the 27th minute through Oladghobad’s strike from a kick-in set-piece, before Derakhshani netted his second goal a minute later, courtesy of Aghapour’s sublime assist.

With a mountain to climb, Thailand head coach Carlos Cesar Gago initiated power play with Panut Kittipanuwong coming off the bench in the 29th minute, but there was not to be even a consolation as Iran cruised into the final.

Team Melli defeats Uruguay in a friendly international

The Portugues head coach Carlos Queiroz made a winning start to his second term in charge of Team Melli as Mehdi Taremi’s second-half goal earned his side a 1-0 win over fellow World Cup qualifiers Uruguay in St. Pölten, Austria on Friday. 

Although the overall assessment of the team under the new cum old Portuguese coach can be graded as average, there were some good points that Iran can positively take to the World Cup.

In the first half, Team Melli’s priority was to shut shop and keep their defenses tight for most of the half. Uruguay, which included its household names such as Luis Suarez , Darwin Nunez and Valverde, had most of the possession in the first half and launched attacks on Iran’s goal, but the solid defense of Team Melli stood up well to whatever the Uruguayns forwards offered. Darwin Nunez prompted Alireza Beiranvand to take action after 15 minutes when the Liverpool striker let fly from distance, forcing the Iranian goalkeeper to tip the ball over the bar.

Luis Suarez sought to lob Beiranvand in the 38th minute but his attempt sailed over while a later effort from the former Barcelona forward curled wide.

In a wise and logical thinking, Queiroz stuck to the tried and trusted duo of Shoja’a Khalizadeh and Hossein Kananizadegan who did not allow Beiranvand to be seriously threatened. On the other hand, Team Melli managed to reach the opponent’s penalty area on several occasions, but could not seriously threaten the goal of their South American opponent.

Uruguay side lost Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo to injury after he hobbled off with barely a minute on the clock clutching his groin.

The first half ended in a goalless draw as both teams lacked the punch to score.

The second half started like the first 45 minutes, with the Uruguayan national team having the majority of ball possession and controlling the midfield creating many chances to score, but in several scenes, Alireza Beiranvand thwarted their attempts .

The best opportunity for Iran to score was in the 65th minute when Mehdi Torabi in good teamwork with Saman Ghoddos breached the Uruguay defense and was close to opening the scoresheet. The final shot by Torabi was parried by Sergio Rochet the Uruguayan goalkeeper and on the second attempt, Torabi’s shot went wide of the goal.
Sardar Azmoun could not create any significant threat to the Uruguay goal until he was substituted. Alireza Jahanbakhsh started an attack, but the final shot by Ehsan Haji Safi was easily handled by Uruguay’s goalkeeper. In the 66th minute, Uruguay was on the verge of scoring, as Abedzadeh missed a cross from an Uruguay corner kick but the header from this team’s striker was cleared off the line by Mehdi Torabi.

Late in the match, Queiroz decided wisely to change the lineup to give the team some needed energy.  , He sent several players including Taremi and Ansarifard to the field in the last 20 minutes. These substitutions improved the situation for Team Melli and the result was decided by Taremi in the 79th minute.
The forward started and finished the move, feeding Saman Ghoddos on the left, and his pass through to Karim Ansarifard was played back into the path of Taremi who side-footed home to score the winning goal of the match and to the delight of the bench.

In the final minutes, Uruguay was looking to compensate for the lost goal and its hope was Suarez in the attack line. In the 89th minute, this player was preparing to shoot at Abedzadeh’s goal behind the penalty area, when Ezatollahi gave away a free kick in a dangerous area with a foul on Suarez. The resulting free kick hit the body of the Iranian defense and an opportunity went missing for the South Americans.

In the end, Queiroz managed to outfox Uruguay’s coach Diego Alonso and achieve a promising victory in Team Melli’s first of the two friendly international matches. This win is valuable for Queiroz as he has precious little time to prepare the team until the first game in the FIFA World Cup.

With England (vs Italy 0-1), Wales (vs Belgium 1-2), and the USA (vs Japan 0-2) all losing their matches in the international break, Iran’s hope and confidence to qualify from this group is certainly not that impossible.


Venue: NV ARENA (St. Pölten)
Referee: Walter Altmann (Austria)
Half time : 0 – 0

Scorer: Mehdi Taremi (79′)
Yelloe card : Uruguay R. Bentancur (81′)

IRAN – A. Beiranvand (63′ Abedzadeh): S. Moharrami , S. Khalilzadeh, H. Kanani, A. Jalali(69’Noorafkan), E. Hajsafi, S. Ezatolahi, M. Torabi( 69′ A. Gholizadeh), S. Azmoun (68′ K. Ansarifard), S. Ghoddos (85’V. Amiri), A. Jahanbakhsh (68’M. Taremi)

URUGUAY -S. Rochet, D. Suárez (72’G. Varela), M. Olivera (85’M. Viña), R. Araújo (5’A. Rogel), S. Cáceres,M. Vecino (72’G. De Arrascaeta), R. Bentancur (85′ L. Torreira), F. Valverde , F. Pellistri (46’N. De La Cruz), L. Suárez, D. Núñez

Iran confirms its place in the AFC Futsal Asian Cup Kuwait 2022™

Bishkek: Defending Champion Iran and Uzbekistan have confirmed their places in the AFC Futsal Asian Cup Kuwait 2022™ after securing a top-two finish in their respective groups of the Central and South Zone Qualifiers on Monday.
Iran beat Turkmenistan 3-0 to stay top of the leaderboard in Group A with six points. The Kyrgyz Republic, meanwhile, revived its qualification hopes after beating the Maldives.

Uzbekistan were the first team from the region to qualify for the Finals after their 5-1 win over Afghanistan. The White Wolves are assured of a top two finish regardless of the result in the final match on Tuesday. One point is all Tajikistan needs to secure a second-place finish in Group B.
Group A
Turkmenistan 0-3 Iran
Turkmenistan were Iran’s toughest challenge yet, but that didn’t stop the defending champions from showing their prowess with Hossein Tayebi breaking the deadlock in the 12th minute before Saeid Ahmadabbasi doubled their advantage moments before the halftime break.
Turkmenistan were still very much in the game as they challenged the champions, but Shiri Bayradurdyyev’s own goal in the 38th minute ended their hopes of a comeback.

Vahid Shamsaei used his second-string players in most of the periods while inducting one or more first-choice players as support.
Iran will take on the Kyrgyz Republic on Tuesday, while Turkmenistan faces a must-win match against the Maldives.

Iran Futsal thrashes Maldives 17-0

Iran’s national futsal team defeated the Maldives 17 – 0  in their first match of the AFC Futsal Asian Cup qualifiers.

This was the first official match for the new coach Vahid Shamsaei the holder of the record goals scored at the international level.

Iran got their title defence off to a fantastic start, beating Maldives 17-0 with eight different players finding the back of the net.

Salar Aghapour opened the scoring in the fifth minute and got his second in the 15th minute. Hamzeh Kadkhoda also scored twice – in the 34th and 35th minutes – while Masound Yousef Shavardazi got his brace with back-to-back efforts in the 37th minute.

Mohammadhossein Derakhshani, Mahdi Karimi and Alireza Rafiei Poir also got into the goalscoring action with a goal each in the sixth, 20th and 38th minutes respectively.

Hossein Tayebi secured a hat-trick with goals in the 11th, 25th and 26th minutes, but the most valuable player was surely Saeid Ahmadabbasi with five goals to his name – two in the 20th minute, his hat-trick in the 23rd minute, before adding two more in the 33rd minute.

Iran will look to continue their fine form against Turkmenistan on Monday, while Maldives will have to bounce back against Kyrgyz Republic.
Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
1  Iran 1 1 0 0 17 0 +17 3
2  Turkmenistan 1 2 0 1 10 9 +2 3
3 Kyrgyz Republic 1 0 0 1 1 3 −2 0
4  Maldives 1 0 0 1 0 17 −17 0

Team Melli ends the qualification rounds with a win against Lebanon.

Mashad: Iran completed their AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar™ schedule in style, eliminating Lebanon from playoff contention with a 2-0 victory at the Imam Reza Stadium on Tuesday.
Goals from Sardar Azmoun and Alireza Jahanbakhsh continued Team Melli’s superb form on home soil and ensured they will go into Friday’s FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ draw full of confidence after an outstanding campaign.

Lebanon came into the Matchday 10 clash with the door to June’s AFC qualification playoff ever so slightly ajar, but a sixth Group A defeat meant Mashhad marked the end of the road for Ivan Hašek’s side.

While the Cedars came into the tie without the likes of Soony Saad and Hassan Maatouk, Iran welcomed back Jahanbakhsh, who missed Thursday’s 2-0 defeat to Korea Republic, and it was the Feyenoord star who forced a solid save from Mostafa Matar with the game’s first real chance, a well struck 20-yard effort in the 19th minute.
Dragan Skočić’s men monopolised early possession, while Lebanon looked to minimise clear cut chances for their opponents, but the visiting side’s resistance was broken by a goal of beautiful simplicity, with Hossein Kanani dissecting the defence to find Azmoun’s perfectly timed run, with the Bayer Leverkusen forward easing the ball home from 12 yards in the 35th minute.
Iran looked to be cruising at that stage, but the hosts were almost punished for some untidy moments in possession prior to the interval, with Hussein Zein sending a rare Lebanese effort on goal narrowly over Alireza Beiranvand’s crossbar in the final minute of the first half.
The hosts continued to live dangerously after the break, with Hilal El Helwe sending Beiranvand sprawling with a volleyed effort that went only inches wide in the 48th minute, but Lebanon’s slim hopes were finally dashed when the Iranian captain put the result beyond doubt with just under 20 minutes remaining.
Again, it was a Kanani pass that unlocked the Lebanese defence, with his lofted ball catching out a much higher defensive line before Jahanbakhsh (pictured below, centre) beat Matar with a cultured side-footed effort which sent the bouncing ball floating into the net from 15 yards.
In Dubai, the UAE team fought gallantly to defeat South Korea 1-0 to seal its position in the AFC playoff and also

confirm Iran as the group winners.

With their third successive FIFA World Cup appearance long secured, Iran’s latest win means they overtake  Korea Republic in group A.


Group A

Final Standing

10 8 1 1 15 4 11 25
10 7 2 1 13 3 10 23
10 3 3 4 7 7 0 12
10 1 6 3 6 12 -6 9
10 1 3 6 9 16 -7 6
10 1 3 6 5 13 -8 6

South Koreans grab a win against Iran.

Seoul: Korea Republic moved to the top of Group A in the AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar™ after a 2-0 victory over the Islamic Republic of Iran on Thursday saw them climb above their opponents with a game to play.
After dominating the first 45 minutes at Seoul World Cup Stadium, Korea opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time through Son Heung-min before Kim Young-gwon doubled their advantage in the 63rd minute with the goal that ultimately killed off the Iranian challenge.
The victory meant Korea claimed a first win over Iran in more than a decade as they also dealt the Iranians their first defeat in Group A to mean they go into their final game away to the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday knowing three more points would see them win the group.
While both sides had already secured their passage to the FIFA World Cup, there remained top spot in the standings left to play for as Korea also sought their first win over the Iranians since the 2011 AFC Asian Cup™, with the sides having faced off seven times since.

Both Son and Hwang Hee-chan returned to the Taeguk Warriors’ line-up having missed the previous qualifiers, while Team Melli were without leading scorer Mehdi Taremi, captain Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Saman Ghoddos, with COVID-19 ruling the trio out.
And it was Paulo Bento’s side who had the first chance of note when just before the 10-minute mark Hwang Ui-jo slipped the ball to Son on the left before darting to the near post and heading the Tottenham Hotspur forward’s first-time delivery just wide.

Korea controlled the majority of the play in the opening 45 minutes but an Iranian backline that had conceded just twice in eight matches to date stood firm until first-half stoppage time when Son’s third goal in Group A broke the deadlock.
The Korean captain was first to a loose ball, skipping round Ahmad Noorollahi in the process and advancing goalwards before unleashing a fizzing shot from 25 yards that proved too hot to handle for ‘keeper Amir Abedzadeh who in truth should have done better.

Korea could have doubled their lead shortly after the restart when Hwang Hee-chan raced through the Iranian defense before slipping in Son, only for the forward to be denied by a superb save from the outrushing Abedzadeh, who was then up quickly to keep out Hwang Ui-jo’s follow-up as he went some way towards making amends for his earlier error.
Bento’s side then did open up a two-goal cushion when good interchange play between Lee Jae-sung and Hwang Hee-chan down the left led to the former playing a low ball into the center for defender Kim – up for a corner just moments earlier – to send home from six yards.

The visitors had their best chance of the night with a little over 10 minutes to play when substitute Allahyar Sayyadmanesh delivered an inviting ball in from the right that the diving Sardar Azmoun could only head into the hands of a grateful Kim Seung-gyu.
Azmoun then played a lovely backheel into the path of Sayyadmanesh just seconds later but, with only Kim to beat, the Hull City forward dinked the ball over the ‘keeper and wide.

Son could have killed the game off with six minutes remaining but saw his goalbound effort deflected wide by Hossein Kanani as the game ended 2-0 and the Koreans maintained their unbeaten record.

Korea now sits a point above Iran ahead of Tuesday’s Matchday 10 clash with the UAE in Dubai, where victory would see them win Group A. Iran, meanwhile, return to Mashhad to round off their campaign against Lebanon.

Taremi the hero as Iran edge UAE

Dubai: Iran secured three priceless points on the Road to Qatar, emerging from a dramatic AFC Asian Qualifiers clash against the United Arab Emirates with a 1-0 win at Zabeel Stadium on Thursday.

A Mehdi Taremi strike with 20 minutes remaining proved decisive, keeping Dragan Skočić’s side on top of Group A with their third win from as many matches in the Final Round.

Unable to end their long winless run against Team Melli, the result leaves the United Arab Emirates stranded on two points from their three outings, considerably raising the stakes ahead of their clash with Iraq on Tuesday, the same day Iran will meet Korea Republic in a top of the table tie.

It had been billed as a showcase of some of the continent’s best strikers, but, with three crucial points on offer, clear goal-scoring chances were at a premium in a keenly contested first half.

An early delivery from the industrious Sadegh Moharrami provided one of those opportunities for Sardar Azmoun, but the Zenit star missed the target with his header, while the Emiratis might have wished it was Ali Mabkhout and not Khalil Ibrahim on the end of their brightest chance, with the latter also heading wide after a burst of speed from Fabio Lima had stretched the otherwise solid Iranian defense.

Scoreless at half-time, Azmoun threatened once again to provide the game’s first goal five minutes after the break, but again failed to test goalkeeper Ali Khaseif, while the other member of Iran’s two-pronged strike-force, Taremi, found himself well contained by the Emirati defense.

Iran had seized the initiative and Khasief was finally called into meaningful action when Jahanbakhsh forced him into a low save, but the pendulum looked to have swung sharply in the UAE’s favour when Shojae Khalilzadeh – exemplary until then – was shown a straight red card for fouling a goalbound Mabkhout, only for the Iranian defender to escape punishment after the Video Assistant Referee spotted an offside earlier in the move.

The turnaround in Iran’s fortunes was complete in the 70th minute when Taremi played a superb give-and-go with Azmoun to get behind the Emirati defense before easily beating the questionably positioned Khaseif from just outside the penalty to break the deadlock.

The visitors had a golden chance to add to the scoring when they were awarded a penalty after Taremi was impeded by Abdullah Ramadan in the dying minutes, but Khaseif saved brilliantly to deny Azmoun from the penalty spot.

That gave Bert van Marwijk’s side a glimmer of hope, but the last gasp equalizer didn’t materialize making Tuesday’s clash against Iraq one of the utmost importance for the UAE.

The perfect record of Skocic continues as Iran claims another 3 points.

Team Melli defeated UAE 1-0 in Dubai in a dramatic match full of action and controversies. The goal was scored by Man of the Match Mehdi Taremi from a spectacular pass from Sardar Azmoun. The win puts Iran comfortably at the top of Group A with a two points cushion over their next opponents South Korea.

Team Melli was far from firing on all cylinders. It was an amazing contrast between the last game against Iraq. The hero of that match was Alireza Jahanbakhsh, who could not put a foot right in this match against UAE and he was wasteful and profligate. Taremi wasted a couple of very good easy chances in this half which could have reduced the pressure on the team if he had opened the scoring. The UAE did embark on a few offensive moves but in reality, they hardly bothered Beiranvand in goal.

The solid defenders in the center of Team Melli’s defense had a marvelous day as both Kananizadegan and Khalizadeh played a classy game with confidence and ability. On the right, Sadegh Moharrami was also shinning. His accelerating and ball control was immaculate. On the left halfback, Nourafkan, who was one of the star players in the previous lineup, was shaky and nervous. He got a yellow card for a foul and m, minutes later he repeated a similar foul from behind but the Australian referee elected not to award him a second card and a dismissal to the disgust and protest of the UAE Players.

In the midfield, it was clear that there is a lack of creativity and dearth of quality in supplying the balls to the forwards. Jahanbakhsh was having an off day, Nourollahi was not at his best, Ezatollahi was far too slow to be effective and focused on his defensive duties more, while Amiri huffed and puffed to no avail. The two schemers of the team, Gholizadeh and Saman Ghoddos were warming the bench.

On the whole, the performance of the team was disappointing in the first half which ended 0-0.

In the second half, Nourafkan was pulled out, perhaps to avoid a second yellow, and Gholizadeh was introduced. This substitution gave a completely different complexion to the team. The nifty winger was a delight to watch going through the UAE defense like a knife through butter.

The highlight of the match occurred on the hour, While Iran was dominant, the only instance of the match when Ali Makhbout managed to beat the trap and Khalizadeh and was going to score, Shojaa pulled him from the back just outside the box. The referee pulled the red card as a result of denying the UAE forward the chance to score. After a lot of discussions and drama, and while Azmoun was being withdrawn to replace him with a central defender, Team Melli rejoiced when the VAR declared that the original pass to Mabkhout came from an offside position. The climate of the situation suddenly turned to a non-event and Shojaa’s red card was rescinded with a free kick awarded to Team Melli.

The goal scored by Taremi in the 69th minute was a work of art between him and Azmoun. Some quick passes outside the box initiated by Taremi found Azmoun on his left. Sardar measured his return pass to his onrushing partner Taremi to perfection. Taremi controlled Azmoun’s pass, saw the UAE Goalkeeper rushing towards him, and sent his ball away from the Keeper’s body into the empty net. 1-0 for Iran. Taremi is an amazing player, he misses an open goal yet he scores the spectacular!

Near the end, there was a penalty given to Team Melli as a result of a foul on Taremi in the box. Sardar Azmoun took the penalty and feebly shot at Khusaif in UAE goal, who had no problem saving it. A penalty wasted.

In the end, the miss did not matter as the UAE could not do much to score and Iran won 1-0. Although the performance of the team was far from satisfactory in the hot and humid weather of Dubai, winning while not playing at your best is one of the signs of champions. The big test, however, is in five days’ time in Azadi Stadium.

As for the UAE which was unable to end their long winless run against Team Melli, the result leaves them stranded on two points from their three outings, considerably raising the stakes ahead of their clash with Iraq on Tuesday, the same day Iran will meet the Korea Republic in a top of the cable clash.

A deserved 3-0 win for Team Melli vs. Iraq

Three beautiful goals, 3 precious points, and one hell of a polished performance were the result of Team Melli’s game against Iraq on Tuesday evening. Iran beat Iraq 3-0 on Matchday 2 of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 to lead the table with maximum points.

Team Melli opened the scoring as early as the third minute from a brilliant piece of play started by one of the match stars Omid Noorafkan. From the left flank, Noorafkam sent a perfectly weighted ball to Taremi who was acting as a wing. Without much hassle, Taremi crossed to the onrushing  Alireza Jahanbkash. Team Melli Captain headed a powerful ball into the goal with Iraq keeper Fahad Taleb could only parry into his own net.

In the minutes after the goal, Iraq took control of the game with surprising ease, however, none of their efforts was towards the goal as Beiravand had the quietest period. But that ball possession for Iraq did not last long as Team Melli took control of the midfield quite logically with Noorollahi and Amiri playing a vital role. Iraq lost Bashar Resan midway through the half due to injury.

Sardar Azmoun could have made the score 2-0 after a perfect diagonal pass from Noorollahi, another star of the match, from the right. Azmoun met the ball and released a powerful low shot, this time however Fahad Taleb was ready for it and saved brilliantly.

The start of the second saw Iraq put the ball into the net as early as the 2nd minute to return the compliment, but the goal was ruled offside by the linesman and the VAR confirmed the right decision has been taken by the Chinese referee.

From then on, both teams battled for the ball, especially in the midfield. Iran looked like the more organized side, with some neat passing and swift counterattacks. The enthusiastic Iraqi’s looked naive in defending and from a ball that was just going dead for an outside throw, Azmoun controlled it and despite two markers, he sent a superb ball all the way to the box where Taremi was lurking. The Porto striker brilliantly controlled the ball, ran a meter or two, and slotted the ball between the onrushing Iraq keeper’s legs, it was 2-0.

The third goal came late in the game with Iraqi players tiring, this time Karim Ansarifard, a late substitute did another Azmoun trick but from the opposite side, the ball reached Ali Ghlozadeh, himself a late substitute. The Chareloi midfielder received the ball well and dribbled Dhargam Ismael, his marker in one smooth move and easily slotted home past Fahad Taleb.

It wasn’t that difficult after all. Team Melli did not leave much for the critics. All the players did their job well, Although Aref Aghasi was short of experience and confidence being his debut match at an important match, he defended well and managed some shy incursions forward, too.

The two outstanding players were Noorollahi and Omid Noorafkan. The central defenders were solid as a rock and very little passed them. Amiri was a menace to the Iraqi and must be given a special mention.

Iran now leads the table with six points and a goal difference of +4 ahead of second-ranked team South Korea.