Asian Cup 2019

Football: Iran and Iraq qualify for last 16 with easy wins

Iran's forward Sardar Azmoun (right) celebrates his second goal during the 2019 AFC Asian Cup group D football match between Vietnam and Iran at the al-Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi, on Jan 12, 2019.
Iran's forward Sardar Azmoun (right) celebrates his second goal during the 2019 AFC Asian Cup group D football match between Vietnam and Iran at the al-Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi, on Jan 12, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

ABU DHABI • Carlos Queiroz has warned that Iran can only get better, after Sardar Azmoun struck twice in the 2-0 win over Vietnam yesterday to ensure they qualified for the last 16 of the Asian Cup.

Iraq joined them in the knockout stages by beating Yemen 3-0 in Sharjah before the two rivals, both on six points, clash on Wednesday to determine the Group D winners.

"The two teams have played very well, fought hard," said coach Queiroz after the match with Asean champions Vietnam, who lost 3-2 to Iraq in their opener.

"However, I believe we can play stronger. We played with only 60 to 70 per cent of our ability.

"But the result is very good. I predicted from the start that Vietnam are a difficult team and it is not easy to score many goals into their net."

Iran, looking for their fourth title and their first since 1976, could have scored four or five but for some poor finishing in Abu Dhabi.

Saman Ghoddos and Mehdi Taremi went close, before Azmoun rose to head home a Ghoddos cross after 38 minutes.

The Rubin Kazan forward then lashed in his third goal of the tournament from the edge of the box 20 minutes from time to give Iran a ninth successive first-round victory dating back to 2007. Iran, joint-favourites with South Korea for the Cup, crushed war-torn Yemen 5-0 in their opener.

Queiroz said: "The next few matches are always important. Now, we will really look forward to that match with Iraq."

In Group C, South Korea and China ensured their places in the last 16 on Friday after beating Kyrgyzstan 1-0 and the Philippines 3-0 respectively.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE


ASIAN CUP

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 13, 2019, with the headline 'Iran and Iraq qualify for last 16 with easy wins'. Print Edition | Subscribe