Iran beat China, accompany Qatar to quarters
Doha: Iran moved into the quarter-finals of the AFC U23 Championship
as Mohammed Khakpour’s team notched up a 3-2 win over China on
Monday to secure second place in Group A and set-up a quarter-final
meeting with Japan.
Arsalan Motahhari gave the Iranians the lead before Chang Feiya levelled
seconds later. Ehsan Pahlavan restored his side’s lead in a frantic three-minute
spell late in the first half before Mahdi Torabi’s free kick just after the break
extended Iran’s advantage, although a penalty by Liao Lisheng caused some
A nondescript opening half hour gave way to a flurry of activity and goals
as the opening period came to a close, with the action moving freely
from one end of the pitch to the other.
Reza Aliyari stormed down the left wing before cutting in a low cross
that Chinese goalkeeper Zhang Yinuo fumbled and Motahhari poked
over the line.
Iran’s lead lasted less than a minute thanks to a moment of individual
brilliance from Chang Feiya, who seared down the right wing before
cutting inside, evading two defenders and then beating Akhbari with
a deflected shot.
The response from Khakpour’s team was instantaneous, with Pahlavan
receiving the ball on the edge of the Chinese penalty area before stroking
a right foot shot beyond Zhang Yinuo and into the bottom corner.
Three minutes after the restart, the Iranians looked to have killed off any
threat that the Chinese might pull level again when Torabi scored with
a beautiful curling free kick from 25 yards out that clipped the underside
of the bar before crossing the line.
China reduced the deficit in the 69th minute when second-half substitute
Liao Lisheng struck from the penalty spot after Mi Haolun was brought
down in the area by Ali Abdollahzadeh, but it was not enough to kick
start a comeback for Fu Bo’s team and Iran advanced to the last eight.
Iran will now take on Group B winners Japan in the quarterfinals.