Iran 5 Yemen 0
By Samindra Kunti in Abu Dhabi
January 7 – Iran asserted their title credentials at the 2019 Asian Cup with a resounding 5-0 demolition of tournament debutants Yemen in their opening Group D game. Medhi Taremi, twice, and an own-goal inside the first 25 minutes set Iran on the path of a comprehensive victory.
In the first ten minutes Yemen, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament and competing in the finals for the first time, showed no fear against the highest ranked team in the tournament, playing brightly and without restraint. In the seventh minute an attempt from Ahmed Al-Sarori, who played as a lone striker, flew just over the bar. But inevitably football’s reality began to bite as Iran imposed their game.
Team Melli, without the injured the Brighton & Hove Albion striker Alireza Jahanbakhsh and SC Amiens’ Ghoddos on the bench, didn’t simply dominate, but choked Yemen in a high-tempo, ruthless 15 minutes to score three times inside the first 25 minutes. Their powerful forward line, including Sardar Azmoun, Mahdi Torabi and Mehdi Taremi, had Yemen’s defence at their mercy.
Mehdi Taremi opened the scoring in the 12th minute when Yemen’s number one Saoud Al-Sowadi spilled a shot from Sardar Azmoun. Eleven minutes later Iranian captain Seyed Dejagah delivered a free-kick that ricocheted off the woodwork and Sowadi’s back into the net. Officials ruled it an own-goal. Taremi then scored his second with a fine header.
It was now just a matter of how big a demolition job Iran were going to inflict on Yemen. Their front three interchanged frequently with Mahdi Torabi roaming freely. At the back Iran, almost innately under Carlos Queiroz, maintained their defensive shape, restricting any potential Yemeni penetration.
After the break Sardar Azmoun, a dangerous presence in and outside the box throughout the first half, made his mark in a personal duel with the Yemeni goalkeeper. Saoud kept out two close headers from the Rubin Kazan striker at first , but was beaten when Azmoun tapped in a richly deserved goal following a scrimmage in front of Yemen’s goalmouth.
It seemed that Iran were intent again on leaving Yemen little space and opportunity to settle down. One-way traffic marked the second half as Yemen were reduced the spectators. Azmoun rattled the bar before substitute Seyed Ghoddos, who had replaced Vahid Amiri at the hour mark, completed the 5-0 scoreline with an excellent volley from the edge of the box in the 78th minute. Iran could have had a sixth but Mahdi Torabi’s late attempt hit the woodwork.
Iran’s all-round display signalled their intent at these finals. They play Vietnam next on Saturday as they seek to end a 43-year drought at the Asian Cup. Plucky Yemen will need to find the personal resilience that has heroically brought them to these finals before they meet Iraq.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1702262784labto1702262784ofdlr1702262784owedi1702262784sni@o1702262784fni1702262784