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Iran defeats Jordan in thriller World Cup soccer qualifier

By Kambakhsh Khalaji

Tehran, Sept 9, IRNA -- Iran survived the Jordanian hell with two late goals in the second-leg 2006 World Cup Asian zone Group One qualifying match in Amman Wednesday night.

photo: ISNA

Supersub Alireza Nikbakht-Vahedi and skipper Ali Daei helped Iran make "Escape to Victory" as the duo headed home in the 80th minute and injury time.

Everything in the nerve-jangling qualifier was against Iran, which needed a win to keep its hope alive. Boisterous home fans in King Abdullah Stadium enthusiastically supported their national players, who killed time and the Chinese referee Lu Jun, who was kind to them.

The home team, which had won the first leg 1-0 in Tehran took a defensive position as the crucial match kicked off.

Iran possessed the ball and field and came close to the opener in the 15th minute when playmaker Ali Karimi sent a superb angled cross for skipper Ali Daei in the six-yard area but the captain failed to kick the ball.

Midfielder Khodadad Azizi provided Karimi a gilt-edged chance six minutes later but he lost his balance when he planned to beat the Jordanian keeper as the home side's defender pushed him.

Daei cupped his face in his hands when his curling free-kick behind the penalty area on 28 minutes rattled the Jordan's post and nation.

Seconds before the restart, King Abdullah II donning a national team jersey took a seat, sending the spectators wild with applause.

The referee deprived the visitor of a goal eight minutes into the second half as he ordered for play while the ball had passed the goalline before Jordan defender Faisal Ibrahim sent it back to the midfield.

Iran's Croat manager Branco Ivankovic threw on Esteqlal left-winger Alireza Nikbakht-Vahedi on 68 minutes and the substitute gave him a positive reply with an invaluable goal 10 minutes from time.

He outjumped his marker in the area to head home a well-flighted cross from Javad Nekounam.

One minute into the stoppage time, Daei poured cold water on Jordanians when he stooped to head home a Bayern Munich striker Vahid Hashemian thundering cross from close range, bringing his international tally to 98 goals, world's best record.

The dramatic win helped Iran leapfrog Jordan on goal difference, standing top in Group One on nine points.

The two sides will play Qatar and Laos in their second-leg games.

... Payvand News - 9/9/04 ... --

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