Iran produced a fine display on Tuesday as they continued to build towards the 2018 FIFA World Cup with a 2-1 triumph over Algeria at the Merkur Arena in Graz.
It took Team Melli just 11 minutes to open the scoring when Sardar Azmoun climbed majestically to meet a right-wing delivery and guide a header into the bottom corner.
Eight minutes later, Ehsan Hajsafi did brilliantly to win possession in the opposition half and thread a neat pass through to Mehdi Taremi, who – with one motion – rounded Faouzi Chaouchi and sent the ball rolling over the line.
Despite boasting the likes of Leicester star Riyad Mahrez and Newcastle striker Islam Slimani to call upon, Algeria found it difficult to find a way past the resolute Iran defence.
Instead, it was centre-back Farouk Chafai who got them back in the contest in the 56th minute, when he was picked out by a Mokhtar Benmoussa freekick and made no mistake in sending a header home.
Nonetheless, the Iranians were able to hold out for the remainder of the contest to claim a morale-boosting win as Russia 2018 draws ever closer.
IRAN: Alireza Beiranvand, Vouria Ghafouri, Mohammadreza Khanzadeh, Pejman Montazeri, Saeid Aghaei (Milad Mohammadi 73’), Saeid Ezatolahi (Masoud Shojaei 46’), Karim Ansarifard (Kaveh Rezaei 70’), Ehsan Hajsafi, Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Saman Ghoddos 79’), Mehdi Taremi (Vahid Amiri 40’), Sardar Azmoun (Omid Ebrahimi 61’).
ALGERIA: Faouzi Chaouchi, Zinedine Ferhat, Aissa Mandi, Farouk Chafai, Ramy Bensebaini, Carl Medjani (Islam Slimani 63’), Salim Boukhanchouche, Riyad Mahrez (Farid El Mellali 68’), Sofiane Hanni (Mokhtar Benmoussa 33’), Hillel Soudani, Baghdad Bounedjah (Lamine Abid 82’).