Iran beat China to meet Japan in semis
Iran Sardar Azmoun celebrates after scoring second goal against China during AFC Asian Cup 2019 quarterfinal Iran at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi - China tried hard in the second half but failed to recover from the twin first half strikes by Sardar Azmoun and Mehdi Taremi
By Ashwani Kumar
Published: Thu 24 Jan 2019, 9:24 PM
Last updated: Thu 24 Jan 2019, 11:26 PM
Iran advanced to the semifinals of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 by thrashing China 3-0 at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.
Iranians were disciplined, kept their fifth clean sheet and produced ruthless display of football throughout the 90 minutes to book next meeting with Japan, who beat Vietnam earlier in the day.
China tried hard in the second half but failed to recover from the twin first half strikes by Sardar Azmoun and Mehdi Taremi. And Karim Ansari added a late goal.
Despite the three-goal difference, it was an intense and competitive game. There were flurry of short passes and both teams had man-to-man marking going well. It was a compact game. And then in the space of two minutes there were two goal scoring moments at either ends. While Iranian striker Sardar Azmoun came close with his shot, Chinese midfielder Hao Junmin almost found striker Wu Lei inside the box but keeper Alireza Beiranvand made a harried save.
And then the breakthrough came from an Iranian counter-attack. It was a long ball from Iranian half and Azmoun followed trail, won the ball from Chinese defender Feng Xiaoting, drew out keeper Yan Junling and crossed to a waiting Mehdi Taremi, who blasted into the net.
The powerful strike and the manner of execution opened up things for Iranians, who started to dominate proceedings. Soon Iran could have doubled from a set-piece but Taremi, who was close to the left post, failed to net from Mohammad Kanani's pass. Iran striker Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Ashkan Dejagah too had attempts as 'Team Melli' ran riot.
And expectedly Iran scored again. It was yet another counter-attack from a long ball as Azmoun blazed into the Chinese box, pipped defender Liu Yiming and then went past the keeper to make it 2-nil. China staged a return in the second half with an improved performance but Iran kept pushing through Taremi, Azmoun, Kanani and Jahanbakhsh.
And in additional time, substitute striker Karim Ansari made good with another long ball to make it 3-0. It was a night when Chinese defenders failed to match the pace of Iranian strikers or answer long balls into their box.
Iran will lock horns with Japan in the semifinals at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on Monday (6 pm).