Football: Iran crush Lebanon 5-0 on road to 2015 Asian Cup
TEHERAN (AFP) - Javad Nekounam starred with a hat-trick as three-time champions Iran kick-started their 2015 Asian Cup football qualifying campaign with a crushing 5-0 victory over Lebanon on Wednesday.
The ex-Osasuna man, now with Iran's Esteghlal, slotted penalties either side of half-time and added the hosts' fifth and final goal while Standard Liege striker Reza Ghoochannejhad weighed in with a brace at Teheran's Azadi Stadium.
The rousing win made Iran early favourites to join Japan, host nation Australia and South Korea, who finished first, second and third in 2011, at the Asian Cup's next edition in early 2015.
The top two teams from each of five qualifying groups go through, along with the best third-placed team, with Iran already well placed at the top of Group B.