Tehran – The National Team of Iran continued their excellent form in World Cup Qualifying with a 1-0 victory over rivals South Korea on 11 October in front of a packed Azadi Stadium.
The Iranians were feeling upbeat after defeating Uzbekistan in Tashkent five days earlier but they knew a South Korean side led by German manager Uli Stielike would be a difficult test.
Carlos Queiroz’s men were prepared well and appeared to have taken the lead early on through Morteza Pouraliganji but his goal was disallowed as the linesman raised his flag for offside.
Minutes later AZ Alkmaar winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh had an opportunity inside the Korean penalty area but his left footed shot was deflected and went over the bar.
Finally in the 25th minute, a move started in the Iranian half of the field by Saeid Ezatolahi found Jahanbakhsh. The dangerous winger caught the attention of two South Korean midfielders and calmly fed the ball to Ramin Rezaeian. The right-back from Persepolis carried the ball and quickly sent a pass into the penalty area that was finished off perfectly by the left toe of Sardar Azmoun to give Iran a 1-0 lead.
Azmoun – the kid from Gonbad Kavus – continues to find the net for Team Melli and has now scored sixteen goals in twenty-two appearances.
“He makes everything look so easy, like icing on a cake,” said Pasha Hajian of Gol Bezan in reference to Azmoun’s world class finishing abilities.
The Koreans were able to increase the pressure in the second half but the Iranians held firm and continued to impress with their disciplined defense and tactical skills.
The Koreans came to Iran looking to break their win-less streak but Carlos Queiroz’s boys were sharp and were in no mood to drop points in front of their die-hard supporters.
Fans and TM players celebrated at the final whistle as Iran remain top of Group A with ten points from four matches played and have yet to concede a goal.
Next up for Iran is an away fixture against Syria in Malaysia on 15 November. Clearly all the pressure will be on TM to grab maximum points after shutting out Uzbekistan and South Korea.