Iran beats Uzbekistan 1-0 in World Cup qualifying
Mohammad Reza Khalatbari scored in stoppage time on Sunday to
give Iran a 1-0 win at Uzbekistan in the final round of Asian
qualifying for the 2014 World Cup after the hosts appeared to have
a legitimate goal ruled out.
Substitute Karim Ansarifard broke down the right before passing
to Khalatbari, who found the net in the fourth minute of added
Iran was lucky to win the Group A match, given Uzbekistan had
the better chances for most of the match and looked to have scored
in the 74th minute when the ball appeared to cross the line.
Uzbekistan captain Odil Ahmedov knocked the ball into the net
but Iran defender Jalal Hosseini, who was inside the goal mouth,
managed to clear it away. TV replays showed the ball had clearly
crossed the line but none of the three referees awarded a goal and
Uzbekistan coach Vadim Abromov said a goal should have been
awarded but is focused on the next match against Lebanon with his
team looking to make its first appearance at the World Cup.
”We scored a goal in the second half but the referees didn’t
see it. Iran had two chances and won it,” Abramov said. ”I don’t
know what did happen with us in the last minutes, sometimes we
concede goals at the end of the match. We lost the game but it is
not tragedy. We have seven matches in the group and hope will not
die until the last moment.”
Iran coach Carlos Queiroz looks to have plenty of work to do to
ensure Iran advances, along with fellow favorite South Korea. His
team appeared sluggish for most of the match and struggled to keep
up with Uzbekistan’s attacking style.
Without a strong goalkeeping performance from Mahdi Rahmati, the
Iranians could easily have lost. Iran is attempting to reach the
World Cup for the fourth, and first since 2006.
”Uzbekistan had several chances. After this we changed our
style and we battled more against them and reached our target,”
Queiroz said. ”I knew Uzbekistan would go forward in the last
minutes. That’s why we changed our tactics and tried to score from
counterattacks. We did it and our changes brought us three
The top two teams from each group will advance to the World Cup
finals. The two third-place sides will play off for a spot.