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Soccer: Macedonia outshines star-studded Iran

By Kambakhsh Khalaji, Tehran Times

TEHRAN - Macedonia eclipsed Iran 2-1 at a four-sided football tournament in Azadi Stadium in western Tehran Friday, setting up the final against Paraguay.

Against the run of the play, an unmarked Nikola Karsef put Macedonia ahead as he rose to head home a corner in the 15th minute.

The home team canceled out Macedonia's opener five minutes later when Hanover 96 striker Vahid Hashemian rifled home a deflected ball from behind the box.

Macedonia, however, retook the lead four minutes before the interval in a rare attack. Ardijan Nuhiji fired home a headed pass from close range.

Bayern Munich midfielder Ali Karimi almost grabbed the equalizer on 56 minutes as his lob hit keeper Sasha Ilich's hand before shaving the crossbar.

Ilich, who is playing for Iranian First Division team Pegah, spectacularly palmed away a powerful drive from midfielder Sattar Zare' in the 64th minute.

Iran's embattled manager Branko Ivankovic threw on marksmen Gholamreza Enayati and Arash Borhani, but the duo failed to level the game.

Earlier in the day, Paraguay fought back to change 2-1 first-half loss with 4-2 win over Togo.

Iran will take on Togo in the third-place match and Macedonia will array against Paraguay in the final showdown Sunday.

The trio Iran, Togo, and Paraguay have booked berths in the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany.

... Payvand News - 11/12/05 ... --

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