Last-gasp goal seals Iran's Asian Cup win

Jan 19, 2015 - 12:18 PM Iran has dodged a meeting with defending Asian Cup champions Japan thanks to a last-gasp goal from substitute Reza Ghoochannejhad against the United Arab Emirates on Monday night.

Just when the tournament's first draw was looming large, Ghoochannejhad headed home a lucky rebound in the first minute of injury time to cap off a late surge from Team Melli and seal a 1-0 win at Suncorp Stadium.

The smash-and-grab victory sent the crowd of 11,394 mostly pro-Iran fans into raptures and set up a likely quarter-final clash with Iraq in Canberra on Friday night.

The UAE, meanwhile, will face Japan in the other quarter-final at ANZ Stadium - assuming the defending Asian Cup champions can earn at least a point from their final Group D clash against Jordan on Tuesday.

The Emirati outfit will be kicking themselves after largely dominating proceedings only for a hopeful half-volley from Adranik Teymourian to find Ghoochannejhad and further extend the Asian Cup's incredible run of games without a draw.

Including Monday night's other game - Bahrain's 2-1 win over Qatar - there have now been 22 consecutive games without a stalemate.

The Asian Football Confederation proclaimed earlier on Monday that it was a record for a football tournament, surpassing the previous mark of 18 matches set in the 1930 FIFA World Cup in Uruguay.

There was scarcely a moment to breathe in an action-packed first half in Brisbane.

Both teams had multiple chances to score but it was the UAE who controlled the game, enjoying 76 per cent of possession and completing a staggering 320 passes to Iran's 70.

Most of them went through star man Omar Abdulrahman, a former Manchester City trialist who plays his club football for Al-Ain.

A move to a big European club surely beckons on this evidence, with the 23-year-old a cut above everyone else on the park.

His vision was sublime and his close control just as good: on the half-hour mark, he danced past four Iran defenders with a stunning run into the box from the right flank. A fifth man put an end to the move.

While Iran didn't see nearly as much of the ball, they did have the more clear-cut opportunities and saw two separate penalty claims waved away by Japanese referee Ryuji Sato.

Neither side could sustain the same frenetic pace after the half-time break, but Team Melli kept believing until the end and eventually found their reward through Ghoochannejhad, who was brought on in the 72nd minute.

Ghoochannejhad, who plays his club football with Charlton Athletic, said his team's never-say-die attitude got them over the line.

"What can I say? The spirit is great in our team ... (our) chemistry is amazing," he said.

"Right now everybody is happy but we have to focus on our upcoming games."

UAE coach Madhi Ali said his team did not deserve to lose.

"But this is football," he said.

"Sometimes you play good and you lose, but sometimes also you don't play good and you win.

"We have to forget this game - we lost, but we did not lose the qualification, and now we have to concentrate on our game against Japan.

"We don't have any problem playing with Japan or any other team."

Source: AAP

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