Iraq seek next Asian Cup upset

Jan 23, 2015 - 12:05 PM Iraq have declared the Asian Cup semi-finals a stage where favourites no longer rule after knocking heavyweights Iran out of the tournament in the most dramatic fashion on Friday.

The Lions of Mesopotamia defeated their neighbours 7-6 in a penalty shootout after the teams drew 3-3 through extra time in Canberra Stadium.

The victory sends Iraq on its way to Sydney where they'll face another cup favourite, South Korea, on Monday.

But Iraqi coach Radhi Shenaishil Swadi says the rules are out for the semi-finals.

"The four teams - Australia, South Korea etc - have the same luck getting to the stage," he told reporters after the match.

He was also disappointed his side will have one day less of recovery against the higher-ranked Taeguk Warriors.

"Our main goal now is recovering - that's the most important thing," Swadi said.

Iraq delivered a spectacular upset to the Iranian campaign, leaving Team Melli again failing to advance past the quarter finals for a third consecutive tournament.

There were two goals in the first 90 minutes, four more in extra time, 13 successful penalties and three missed kicks as Iraq - the 2007 champions clinched the hard-fought for victory.

With the shootout poised at 4-3, Iraq captain Younis Mahmoud kept his team in the match with a chipped "Panenka" penalty before Iranian substitute Vahid Amiry hit the post to leave Salam Shakir with the chance to win it.

He made no mistake, sending the Lions of Mesopotamia through.

It was tough on Iran, who played the whole of the second half and extra time with 10 men due to a contentious red card to defender Merhdad Pooladi.

Pooladi was sent off in the 43rd minute after seemingly stepping over the head of Iraq goalkeeper Jalal Hachim, who was going for a save.

The unimpressed Hachim shoved Pooladi to the ground and Australian referee Ben Williams gave Pooladi his second yellow card and sent him on his way.

A furious Iran coach Carlos Quieroz could be seen being held back by his substitutes from confronting Williams as he headed in at the half-time interval.

Quieroz, who was fined $3000 earlier in the tournament for criticising Williams, was reluctant to comment on the controversial decision when asked by reporters post-match.

The Portuguese manager said he was concerned his career would end if he did.

"Can he sleep at night?" Quieroz said.

"We have a case with this referee - you make the judgment."

However, Swadi said it was Iran's own mistake for playing too aggressively despite leading in the 23rd minute after a header from Sardar Azmoun.

"The referee gave all the yellow cards in the right situation tonight," he said.

Iran's depleted squad allowed Iraq to dominate possession and send in a series of dangerous shots in the second half.

They easily equalised in the 55th minute with a shot from Ahmed Yaseen Gheni past goalkeeper Ali Reza Haghighi.

Mahmoud put Iraq ahead minutes into extra time after finding the goal post virtually undefended and catching Haghighi off guard.

Iran equalised when Morteza Pouraligani headed in a corner kick from Andranik Teymourian - but Dhurgham Ismael restored Iraq's lead with a penalty.

Iran spectacularly came from behind once again with a Reza Ghoochannejhad header that finally found the net after successive failed shots from his teammates inside the six yard box.

But it was all for nothing with Iraq defeating its rival for the first time in 12 years.

Source: AAP

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