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Soccer: Iran wins, Denmark gives moral lesson -- both from penalty spot

Hong Kong, Feb 1, IRNA -- Iran handed the under-23 side of Denmark a 1-0 loss from the penalty spot in the opening match of a four-sided soccer tournament here on Saturday as the Danish proved their sportsmanship.

Denmark's Captain Morten Wieghorst deliberately kicked wide a penalty awarded to his team just on half-time after an Iranian defender had picked up the ball on hearing a whistle from the crowd at the Hong Kong stadium.

The referee immediately pointed to the penalty spot. But in a brave display of sportsmanship, Wieghorst, only leading the team for the second time, kicked the ball wide, much to the appreciation of the Iranian players and the large crowd.

"It was fair play by our captain. He didn't want to take that goal and well done to him," applauded Danish Coach Morten Olsen afterward.

Denmark shortly went behind and Javad Nekounam converted three minutes into the second half after winger Hossein Ka'bi was brought down with a two-footed lunge by Asbjorn Sennels inside the area.

Nekounam struck a low shot into the left-hand corner of the net to give his side a 1-0 lead. Iran then defended for the rest of the half with only striker Khodadad Azizi up front.

Denmark clearly had the best of the first half and came close to scoring on a number of occasions. Forward Soren Berg was just wide of the mark with a couple of headers while Thomas Larsen also missed in the 13th minute, when he hit a volley wide, and was denied by Iranian goalkeeper Ebrahim Mirzapour in the 30th minute.

"We were under pressure for most of the match. It is satisfying to beat a team like Denmark and be in the final. Our expectations are high," AFP quoted Iran's Coach Homayoun Shahrokhi as saying.

Denmark came close to leveling the scores in the second half. But Iranian goalie Mirzapour pulled off a number of good saves to give his side a good start to the four-team tournament that also includes Uruguay and a Hong Kong League XI.

"We came here to win the cup. But it is our fault that we are not in the final. We had our chances and we did not take it," added a disappointed Olsen.

... Payvand News - 2/1/03 ... --

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