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Karimi revives Iran's World Cup hopes

Ali Karimi

TEHRAN, June 10 (Mehr News Agency) -- A goal from Iran's star striker Ali Karimi against the UAE on Wednesday brought the Persians back into contention to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

In front of approximately 50,000 spectators at Tehran's Azadi Stadium, Iran beat the visitors, who were obviously demoralized for suffering six defeats in seven games, 1-0.

The Iranians played better in the first half but their strikers failed to take advantage of their chances. Bochum striker Vahid Hashemian squandered two opportunities. First, he chested down a pass from Karimi but his shot was saved by Majed Nasser. Shortly after, his header went wide across the goal.

Mohammad-Reza Khalatbari missed Iran's best chance five minutes into the second half. Pejman Nuri sent a low cross to box but Zob Ahan striker's header went straight into Emirate keeper's hands.

Karimi gave Iran the lead in the 53rd minutes, moving the ball into the box and kicking it into the net to wrap up Iran's second victory in the tournament.

The Persians had won over North Korea 2-1 in their first leg.

Iran is still fourth in the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa qualifiers with seven points. South Korea tops the pool with 15 points, followed by its northern neighbor with 11 points, with Saudi Arabia in third, also with 11 points. The UAE have just one point.

The third-place team in the group will go to a playoff with the third-place team in Group A for the right to play Oceania champion New Zealand for a spot at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

... Payvand News - 6/10/09 ... --

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