Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s last-minute penalty advances Iran to Asian Cup semis

Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s last-minute penalty advances Iran to Asian Cup semis

Published Feb. 3, 2024 12:10 p.m. ET

Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s last-minute penalty gave Iran a 2-1 win over Japan on Saturday and a place in the Asian Cup semifinals for just the second time since 2004.

Jahanbakhsh kept his cool in the 96th minute to keep Iran on course for a first title since 1976 and fourth overall. Ko Itakura had been whistled for the foul and Jahanbakhsh gave goalkeeper Zion Suzuki no chance.

Iran came from behind after Hidemasa Morita put pre-tournament favorite Japan ahead in the first half of an entertaining quarterfinal match at Education City Stadium.

Mohammad Mohebi leveled the score in the 55th minute.


Iran will face either host Qatar or Uzbekistan in the semifinals.

Iran started aggressively with Jahanbakhsh firing just over from the left after 13 minutes. Shortly after Saeid Ezatolahi shot straight at Suzuki.

Out of nothing, however, Japan, looking for a record fifth win, took the lead in the 28th minute. Morita collected a pass, skipped past Hossein Kanani to enter the area and while his shot was soft, it seemed to confuse Alireza Beiranvand and the ball bounced off the goalkeeper’s leg and into the net.

Iran, without suspended star striker Mehdi Taremi, almost leveled six minutes before the break when Brentford midfielder Saman Ghoddos shot just wide.

Ten minutes after the break, Sardar Azmoun slipped the ball through to Mohebi whose first-time shot from near the penalty spot went in the net to spark the comeback.

The last remaining quarterfinal is between Qatar and Uzbekistan and takes place later Saturday.

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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