Attacking Iran start Asian Cup with win

Jan 11, 2015 - 11:46 AM A wonder-strike from Ehsan Hajsafi has helped Iran to a perfect start in their Asian Cup campaign, defeating Bahrain 2-0.

In a pulsating AAMI Park, Hajsafi's first half injury time strike and Masoud Shojaei's 71st minute effort earned Iran the points.

The two goals were both volleyed corners - but of very different styles.

Hajsafi controlled a deflected corner with his left foot, then lashed home from outside the box with his right.

The ball sailed over the Bahraini defence and stranded keeper Sayed Jaffar, sending the crowd into a meltdown.

It was a stylish goal that the game merited, with Shojaei's second no less than Iran deserved.

The midfielder met Andranik Teymourian's corner first time, but shinned the ball beyond the Bahraini keeper's reach.

Frosty relations between the two countries threatened a tense encounter, but the 17,712-strong crowd were instead treated to a classic end-to-end match.

Both sides were committed to attacking football without time-wasting or drama, cheered on by raucous support.

They'd come in their thousands to support Iran and cheered every attack, every save and much in between with tremendous voice.

Despite the wall of sound, Bahrain started brightest.

An overhead kick from Jaycee Okwunwanne and a header from Sayed Dhiya in the opening 15 minutes were good chances but failed to test Iranian keeper Alireza Haghighi.

Iran then began to assert themselves, with former Fulham winger Ashkan Dejagah prominent.

His one-on-one effort was saved well by gloveman Jaffar, before Hajsafi netted but was judged off-side in a most marginal call.

After the break - and Hasjsafi's stunner - the game continued apace, with Okunwanne testing Haghighi with a volley of his own on 58 minutes.

Iran striker Reza Ghoochannejhad was denied again by the linesman's flag five minutes later, with inconclusive replays.

But Iran were not to be denied, finding their second and keeping Bahrain at bay.

Iran's win places them second in Group C, behind the United Arab Emirates who defeated Qatar 4-1 earlier in the day.

Bahrain must beat UAE on Thursday to stay in the tournament, while Iran march on to play Qatar in Sydney on the same day.

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz said after a shaky start, his team returned to their game plan.

"We started to put the ball on the grass and we created more opportunities," he said.

"After the first ten minutes I think we controlled the game... I think we deserved to win."

Beaten manager Marjan Eid said he was proud of his team's effort.

"The Iran team is very strong... we lost three points but my players did a good job," he said through a translator.

Source: AAP

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