Asian Cup: Iran thrash Yemen 5-0 as China, RoK book narrow wins

Tuesday, 2019-01-08 06:55:29
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Iran (in white) play a dominant game against Yemen. (Photo: AFC)
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A scintillating display from start to finish saw the Islamic Republic of Iran beat Yemen 5-0 on Monday to begin their AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 campaign in fine style.

Mehdi Taremi scored twice as the three-time AFC Asian Cup champions, who reached the quarter-finals last time out in Australia, excelled throughout and underlined their title credentials in what is their 14th consecutive appearance at Asia’s premier competition.

Iran’s success sees them go top of the Group D standings ahead of Tuesday’s encounter between fellow group hopefuls Iraq and Vietnam.

Taremi opened Iran’s account in the 12th minute when he converted the rebound after Yemen goalkeeper Saoud Al Sowadi could only push Sardar Azmoun’s long-range effort back into his path.

Tractorsazi star Ashkan Dejagah duly doubled Team Melli’s tally on 23 minutes, the midfielder’s free-kick finding the back of the net via a combination of both woodwork and Al Sowadi, before Taremi bagged his second of the night by heading home Ramin Rezaeian’s pinpoint cross moments later.

With Yemen struggling to contain their opponents, and in the final genuine chance of an enthralling first period, Omid Ebrahimi forced Al Sowadi into a fine diving save as Iran maintained their dominance up until the break.

There was to be little change to the pattern of the game in the second half, and after Al Sowadi had superbly repelled two Azmoun headers, the Rubin Kazan forward finished from close-range on 53 minutes to further extend Iran’s lead.

Iran showed no sign of relenting as the game progressed, with Azmoun only denied by Mudir Abdurabu’s excellent challenge when through on goal, and the seemingly omnipresent frontman crashing a shot against the bar with 14 minutes remaining.

Substitute Saman Ghoddos added a fifth from the edge of the area shortly after, while Mahdi Torabi’s fierce drive struck a post in added time.

Next up for Iran will be a clash with Vietnam at Abu Dhabi’s Al Nahyan Stadium on Sunday, with Yemen set to face Iraq in Sharjah on the same day.

Prolific goal scorer Hwang Ui-jo snatched a second-half winner as the Republic of Korea beat Sven-Goran Eriksson's Philippines 1-0 at the Asian Cup on Monday.

The Koreans, looking to end 59 years of hurt after failing to win the title since 1960, soaked up considerable pressure in their opening Group C fixture before Hwang broke the deadlock after 67 minutes in the United Arab Emirates.

A spectacular goalkeeping blunder helped Marcello Lippi's China avoid a humiliating defeat as they came from behind to narrowly beat minnows Kyrgyzstan 2-1.

The Central Asians, ranked 91st in the world and playing their first major tournament, bossed the first half and deservedly led 1-0 at the break of their Group C clash after Akhlidin Israilov's rasping strike.

But panicky Kyrgyz goalkeeper Pavel Matiash committed the howler of the Asian Cup so far when he palmed the ball into his own net shortly after half-time, before Beijing Guoan forward Yu Dabao grabbed the winner 12 minutes before the end.