AFC - Iran put on a dominant display as Carlos Queiroz’s side recorded a 4-0 win over Lebanon at the Azadi Stadium on Tuesday that keeps their bid to qualify for the FIFA World Cup finals in Brazil next year on track.
Three goals in seven minutes either side of the half-time break effectively sealed the three points for the Iranians as they seek to qualify for a fourth FIFA World Cup having previously appeared in Argentina in 1978, in France in 1998 and in Germany in 2006.
Victory moves Iran to within a point of Group A leaders Korea Republic and into second place, two points ahead of Uzbekistan with just one round of matches to play. The Iranians travel to Ulsan to face the Koreans next Tuesday.
With the Lebanese already eliminated, the onus was on Iran to take advantage of a weak opponent and, although the hosts were in control from the first whistle, it took the Iranians until the 39th minute to take the lead.
Reza Ghoochannejhad and Mohamad Reza Khalatbari were guilty of missing several chances before Khalatbari finally opened the scoring six minutes ahead of the halftime break when he slipped the ball beyond Abbas Hassan.
Captain Javad Nekounam doubled his side’s advantage as the half moved into Stoppage time when the former Osasuna midfielder headed into the top corner following Khosro Heydari’s cross.
The second half was not even a minute old when the Iranians made it 3-0 via Ghoochannejhad, who smashed the ball into the roof of the net after turning past Hassan Daher and Iran had numerous opportunities to add to their goal difference throughout what remained of the game.
Despite their dominance, however, Iran had to wait until four minutes from time when Nekounam claimed his second and his team’s fourth with a fabulous finish with the inside of his right foot from outside the area that gave Hassan no chance.
But the size of the win means a draw could be enough for the Iranians when they take on the Koreans next week to advance to their fourth FIFA World Cup finals.
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