Qatar holds Iran to 0-0 in World Cup qualifier
Qatar survived an onslaught from Iran to secure a well-earned 0-0 draw in an Asian World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.
Iran, a favorite to advance to the 2014 finals in Brazil, was by far the better side but its attack couldn't turn the bulk of possession and good chances into goals thanks in part to Qatar goalkeeper Qasem Burhan. It has scored only once in its first two Group A matches.
In the first half, Iran captain Javad Nekonam hit the crossbar in the 30th minute while Qatar's naturalized Brazilian defender Marcone was denied by goalkeeper Mahdi Rahmati 10 minutes before the break.
Iran's best chance in the second half came in stoppage time when a free kick from just outside the area by substitute Ashkan Dejagah just flew over the goal.
''It was difficult as I had expected. But it was a game that moved only in one direction: Towards the Qatar goal,'' Iran coach Carlos Queiroz said. ''But, despite all attempts, we couldn't score. Our inability to find the target cost us two points. We played the entire 90 minutes with full concentration, never allowing the rivals any space. Our goalkeeper was tested only once, in the first half.''
Qatar coach Paulo Autuori praised his players for bouncing back after a 4-1 defeat to South Korea last week.
''Congratulations to our players. The way we reacted after the defeat against South Korea proved the players' mental strength,'' he said. ''The presence of a 100,000-strong vociferous crowd made it even more difficult, but we showed we've the capability to withstand all those pressures.''
Qatar, which is hosting the 2022 World Cup, is level with Iran on four points in Group A, two points behind leader South Korea.