Persianfootball.com – TEHRAN, Iran fulfilled their duty with a narrow but in the end more than deserved 2-1 win over Thailand in AFC Asian Cup qualifying in Tehran’s Azadi stadium on Tuesday evening.
Man of the match Jalal Hosseini gave Iran the lead after 67 minutes before Reza Ghoochannejhad scored his sixth goal in his sixth appearance for Iran this year and Teerasil Dangda pulled one back with the visitors’ first and only serious effort on goal.
Due to the victory Iran (7 points) extended their lead in group B by two points, increasing the gap to second placed Kuwait (5 points), who only played out a 1-1 draw in Lebanon.
The top two of each group advance to the Asian Cup finals in Australia in 2015.
Dejagah instead of Jabbari
While Hossein Mahini replaced the injured Khosro Heydari as expected, Rahman Ahmadi remained the starting goalkeeper despite the presence of Bundesliga keeper Daniel Davari, but the Sepahan Esfahan veteran, despite barely getting tested, once again did not make the most secure impression possible.
Mojtaba Jabbari not too surprisingly had to take a seat on the bench, but not many had foreseen that Fulham winger Ashkan Dejagah would take his spot in central offensive midfield while Mohammad-Reza Khalatbari slipped into the lineup as right winger.
The decision seemed to pay off after just 14 minutes though when Dejagah found himself alone in front of the goal and lobbed the ball over the keeper but also slightly over the crossbar.
However, Dejagah obviously is suffering from the lacking match praxis at his club and overall showed a below average display.
Iran of course fully controlled the proceedings, but failed to create further clear cut chances, instead Ghoochannejhad’s shot from inside the box went far out while captain Javad Nekounam’s headers also were no serious threat.
Two goals, two debutants
Finally, Karim Ansarifard’s introduction for Dejagh five minutes after the hourmark improved the dull offensive display, although the 23-year-old striker did not have his foot in the first goal two minutes later.
Mahini stopped an attempted counter attack and his hopeful ball forward turned out as perfect assist for Jalal Hosseini, who crowned his really splendid performance by curling the ball past the goalkeeper.
Just three minutes later the good Masoud Shojaei inscened Ansarifard on the left wing, who got rid of his marker and played a perfect pass to Ghoochannejhad, who easily tapped the ball in from close range.
With Thailand being unable to create any danger, Carlos Queiroz introduced two debutants to Team Melli, bringing on Steven Beitashour of San Jose Earthquakes and Alireza Jahanbakhsh for Mahini and Shojaei.
And suddenly Thailand reminded the hosts that any concentration slips can be punished, with the completely unmarked Teerasil Dangda unleashing a great shot from the edge of the box to beat the not completely chanceless Ahmadi.
Iran could have increased the lead to two goals again four minutes from time when Ansarifard set up Khalatbari in the penalty area, but the Persepolis man’s shot was sensationally deflected onto the crossbar by Thailand’s goalkeeper.
Ansarifard overdid it with his role as creator in the final minute of the match then when being one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but instead of trying his luck attempted an eventually unsuccessful square pass to Ghoochannejhad
Thailand will have a chance for revenge next month when the two sides will meet in Bangkok in the same competition on November 15, four days before Lebanon will host Team Melli in Beirut.
Iran – Thailand 2-1 (0-0)
AFC Asian Cup qualifier group C
Tehran, Azadi stadium
67′ 1-0 Hosseini (Assist by Hossein Mahini)
70′ 2-0 Ghoochannejhad (Karim Ansarifard)
80′ 2-1 Teerasil Dangda
Iran: Ahmadi – Mahini (77′ Beitashour), Montazeri, Hosseini, Beikzadeh – Teymourian, Nekounam – Khalatbari, Dejagah (65′ Ansarifard), Shojaei (79′ Jahanbakhsh) – Ghoochannejhad
Iranian players booked: none
Below come the goals as PFDC TV.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dc54kzyvxGw