Reuters – HONG KONG, Iran made a winning start to qualifying for the 2022 World Cup with a 2-0 victory over Hong Kong on Tuesday.
Seeking a sixth World Cup appearance and third in a row, Iran picked up maximum points in their Group C opener after seeing off a determined and defensive Hong Kong, whose jeering fans drowned out the Chinese national anthem before kick off.
Sardar Azmoun gave Iran the lead midway through the first half with a low volley into the bottom corner before Karim Ansarifard secured the win with a side-footed finish nine minutes after the break.
“We gained three points from this match, so I think it was a positive result,” said coach Marc Wilmots, who was taking charge of his first competitive game for Iran.
“We encountered a wall of defence from the Hong Kong team but we were able to score two goals and had opportunities to score more.
“This is the beginning of our preparations and we will get better day-by-day.”
Iran are a point behind group leaders Bahrain, who won away to Cambodia 1-0, but have played one game more.
The eight group winners and the four best runners-up advance to the third round of qualification.