Bahrain holds Iran to 1-1 draw in WCup qualifier

Bahrain held Iran to a 1-1 draw Friday in a politically charged

Asian World Cup qualifying match in the restive Gulf kingdom.

Bahrain striker Mohammed al-Ajmi gave the hosts a 1-0 lead at

halftime, but Iran midfielder Mojtaba Jabbari scored an equalizer

in the 90th minute at the half-empty National Stadium.

Tensions between the two Gulf neighbors have been heightened

after protests in Bahrain by the Shiite majority against the Sunni

monarchy. Bahrain has accused Iran of encouraging the unrest, while

Iran has denounced the Bahrain government’s crackdown.

Security was tight Friday and eyewitnesses said Bahrain fans

burnt Iranian flags outside the stadium after the match and threw

water bottles at the Iranian players as they were leaving the

field.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Iran leads Group E with eight points from four matches. Qatar,

which beat Indonesia 4-0, trails on goal difference, while Bahrain

is third with five points.