Iran beats Qatar in Asian Cup

Jan 15, 2015 - 12:49 PM A sublime piece of skill from Sardar Azmoun booked Iran's passage into the Asian Cup football quarter finals and condemned Gulf Cup champions Qatar to an early exit.

Sardar's slick turn and clinical shot in the 52nd minute at Sydney's ANZ Stadium on Thursday earned Iran a 1-0 win, their second victory from as many games.

It leaves them second in their group on goal difference behind the United Arab Emirates, who earlier in the day defeated Bahrain 2-1 in Canberra, and will now meet Iran in Brisbane next Monday.

Qatar, who were coming off a 4-1 opening game loss to the UAE, had a decent share of possession, but struggled to create good chances.

Russian-based Sardar's goal delighted the vast majority of the 22,672 fans in attendance in Sydney, with Iran's passionate and colourful fans ramping up the noise level of support to the max each time their team got close to Qatar's penalty area.

Iran one of the pre-tournament favourites, were more consistently dangerous than Qatar and were good value for the win, which they achieved with a second straight clean sheet.

Qatar, who entered the tournament on a long unbeaten run, lacked penetration and didn't get a single shot on target in the first half.

Just before halftime, Morteza Pouraliganji's flying header from an Iran corner was headed off the line by Ahmed Elsayed, while Sardar had a firm fourth minute header saved by Qatar goalkeeper Qasem Burhan.

It was a similar story in the second half, even after an apparently injured Sardar came off just after the hour.

His substitute Reza Ghoochannejhad had four shots at goal, three of them saved, as Iran sought the cushion of a second goal.

The Qatar goalkeeper also had to push away a shot from Ehsan Haji Safi.

Qatar Substitute Meshaal Abdullah hit a post with a header in stoppage time, but he was judged offside.

Iran midfielder Andranik Teymourian was named man of the match.

Iran coach Carlos Quieroz described Sardar's goal as brilliant.

"It was a special movement of a centre forward," Quieroz said.

"He made a great turn at the level of some of the best centre forwards I've worked with in my life, (including Dutch striker) Ruud van Nistelrooy (at Manchester United)."

He said Sardar's injury didn't appear serious, but he would have a better idea on Friday.

Both Quieroz and Teymourian praised the performance of Iran's fans, with the coach dedicating the win to the supporters.

"We were always trying to score again but unfortunately the second goal did not come and that made life difficult until the last second," Quieroz said.

"It was a good win. We had the best opportunities in the game and I think we deserved to win."

Qatar coach Djamal Belmadi was proud of his young side's effort against a more experienced team and believed they would have done better, had they not conceded so early in the second half.

"Because after this goal, we played a little bit in a hurry and when you play like this you start to miss your organisation," Belmadi said.

"It's not the right thing to do if you want to win a game, especially against a good team like Iran."

Source: AAP

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