Teremi signals his arrival with double that sees Iran top group, UAE qualify in second

January 23 – Iran were deserved victors in their Group C clash with runners-up UAE as Medhi Taremi and Sardar Azmoun combined to give the Iranians an run in the group stages of the Asian Cup.

In an entertaining contest at the Education City Stadium, Iran secured a 2-1 victory in a match that will satisfy both teams, with Yahya Ghassani’s late consolation enough for UAE to guarantee a place in the round of 16.

As UAE coach Paulo Bento served his suspension from the stands, Iran dominated early possession with three good attempts on goal in the opening 20 minutes of the contest.

In the 26th minute, Medhi Taremi seized on to a wonderful through ball from Sardar Azmoun to mark his first goal of the tournament. The man from FC Porto who until now had been consigned to the bench, scored a striker’s finish to put his side in a deserved lead.

Iran capitalised on their early dominance by temporarily doubling the lead, as an unmarked Ali Gholizadeh headed in an inch-perfect cross from the left side.

UAE were let off after the goal was reviewed as offside by a whisker.

Iran were comfortable throughout the first half, playing the majority of their football in the attacking third as UAE had no answer. As the oldest team in the tournament (averaging 29 years), Iran’s wealth of experience began to show.

Iran’s Sadegh Moharrami was stretchered off on cusp of half time after suffering a serious injury- the player will be a big miss in the next round.

Iran deservedly lead at half time but there was still an opportunity for UAE to fashion a comeback.

UAE were handed a lifeline in the 60th minute, earning a penalty to give them a way back.

Ghassani stepped up to take the penalty that he had earned himself, but failed to profit from the opportunity after his tame strike was saved by Iran’s Ali Reza Beiranvand. Their lifeline back into the game was cut by their own player, who later took it upon himself to make amends.

Less than two minutes later, a defensive mixup by UAE plays the ball right into Iran’s path, as Azmoun and Taremi combine again, with the Porto man supplying a wonderful finish into the top left corner of the goal.

Chaos ensued as Iran scored again seconds later, but it’s ruled out. UAE were buckling under the Iranian momentum and desire, defensively in meltdown after failing to recover composure lost by the penalty miss moments prior.

Azmoun and Taremi continued to stylishly combine as it became clear that UAE did not have an answer to the attacking duo, who displayed their finest performance of the tournament so far.

Minutes after VAR’s last intervention, Iranian attacker Mohannad Mohebbi scored, capitalising on a loose ball cannoning around the UAE box. A powerful shot into the bottom left following his teammate’s shot that ricocheted off the crossbar, the goal was disallowed in bizarre fashion as VAR deemed there to have been a foul in the buildup.

Thriving on controversy and the disarray in the angry UAE defence, Azmoun almost scored immediately after with a quick breakaway that undid the opposition’s defensive shape. Perfect in the buildup, the Iranian was uncharacteristically only lacking the finish.

Iran took the opportunity to make an attacking statement to the rest of the teams in the tournament – they would have had five goals if VAR hadn’t intervened.

Not going down without a fight, UAE mustered a couple of quality opportunities in the buildup to the final whistle, headlined as striker Ghassani scored a wonderful finish that sent his team through to the round of 16 on goal difference. After a mazy run, the striker finished with a curling effort that nestled into the side netting.

The team celebrated the goal as if it were a winner, despite being 2-1 down.

With both teams content with the scoreline, the 13 minutes of additional time were tame from both sides, as Iran protected their unbeaten group stage record and the UAE maintained their superior goal difference over Palestine.

Contact the writer of this story, Harry Ewing, at moc.l1708362634labto1708362634ofdlr1708362634owedi1708362634sni@g1708362634niwe.1708362634yrrah1708362634


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