Source: Press TV
Iran's national football team has defeated Thailand to take a huge step towards qualifying for the 16th edition of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup in Australia. On Friday, the Iranian squad routed the hosts 3-0 in Bangkok's Rajamangala Stadium to remain on the top of Group B with 10 points.
Jubilant Iranian football players (photo by Islamic Republic News Agency)
The Thais started the match with vigor and valor and dominated the first few minutes of the game. The Iranians could then establish themselves and had a number of obvious scoring opportunities, which were cleared to safety by Thailand's goalkeeper Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakool.
Iran's attacking midfielder Ashkan Dejagah, who plays for Britain's professional football club Fulham, seized a golden opportunity in the 28th minute and slammed the ball into the back of the net to open the scoring.
Shortly before the break, Iranian striker Reza Qouchan-Nejad, who currently plays for Belgian club Standard Liege, doubled the lead for the visitors in the 43rd minute.
Iranian footballers did not stop at that and continued to exert a spell of pressure on their rivals after the interval.
The hosts were reduced to 10 men in the 92nd minute after striker Puwadon Suwannachart received a direct red card and was sent off for a rash tackle on Iranian player Ehsan Hajsafi.
Iran's Alireza Jahanbakhsh completed the rout in the 94th minute.
"We go to Lebanon next week with 10 points which was our goal. I think it will be enough to qualify for the Asian Cup finals. It was a good game for us tonight, especially in the first half. We were 2-0 up and had control of the game after 45 minutes," Iran's coach Carlos Queiroz said after the match.
He added, "We slowed down a bit in the second half and played with less energy and speed. My players know there is a long trip to Lebanon. We came here with the right attitude, very professional. I am very happy with the attitude of my players."
The 2015 AFC Asian Cup will be held between January 9 and 31 in Australia. The winner of the tournament will earn the right to compete for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup hosted by Russia.
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