AFC Asian Cup 2019: Rampant Iran up and running with Yemen demolition

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Iran issued a real statement of intent on Monday as they kicked off their AFC Asian Cup Group D campaign with a crushing 5-0 win over debutants Yemen at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.

Mehdi Taremi was the star of the show with two clinical finishes in the first half, while a Saoud Abdullah Al-Sowadi own-goal and further strikes from Sardar Azmoun and Saman Ghoddos sealed an emphatic victory.

Following Australia’s shock defeat to Jordan on Sunday and with having seen Korea Republic make hard work of a 1-0 win over Philippines earlier in the day, Iran’s performance proved to be the first time so far in the tournament that one of the giants had properly produced a commanding display.

Team Melli could not have asked for a better start as they took the lead after 12 minutes, although they had Al-Sowadi to thank for a real gift, mere moments after the goalkeeper had made a decent save to deny the man who would open the scoring.

It was Azmoun who tried his luck from 20 yards with a firm yet central effort but Al-Sowadi spilled a routine save as the ball came back off his knees and Taremi, who had gambled with the follow-up run, made no mistake in converting on the rebound.

Things went from bad to worse for Al-Sowadi and his side in the 23rd minute as the Iranians doubled their lead.

Lining up a freekick on the edge of the area, Ashkan Dejagah caressed a shot around the wall and back off the post, where it skimmed off the back of the Yemen custodian and over the line.

Just two minutes later, Taremi notched his second of the evening in fine fashion, climbing high to meet Ramin Rezaeian’s glorious right-wing cross and sending a perfectly-guided header into the top corner.

Iran continued to dominate proceedings and the chances continued to flow in the second half, so it should not have come as any surprise that a fourth goal arrived eight minutes after the restart.

Again, Al-Sowadi was far from convincing as his failed punch at a corner saw him divert the ball off Taremi and kindly into the path of Azmoun, whose close-range finish was desperately hacked away but not before it had crossed the line.

And, with 12 minutes remaining, the rout was completed with Morteza Pouraliganji’s flick-on header from a Dejagah freekick went all back to outside the box, where Ghoddos somehow managed to squeeze a powerful effort through a sea of players and into the back of the net.

IRAN: Alireza Beiranvand, Ramin Rezaeian, Morteza Pouraliganji, Majid Hosseini (Pejman Montazeri 46’), Ehsan Hajsafi, Omid Ebrahimi, Ashkan Dejagah, Vahid Amiri (Saman Ghoddos 60’), Mehdi Torabi, Mehdi Taremi (Karim Ansarifard 71’), Sardar Azmoun.

YEMEN: Saoud Abdullah Al-Sowadi, Mohammed Ba Rowis, Mudir Abdurabu, Mohammed Fuad Omar (Ammar Hamsan 57’), Ala Addin Mahdi, Emad Mansoor Tawfik, Wahid Al-Khyat (Ahmed Saeed Abdulrab 64’), Ahmed Al-Haifi, Abdulwasea Al-Matari (Ahmed Nabil Dhabaan 87’), Ala Al-Sasi, Ahmed Al-Sarori.

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