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Iraq defeats Iran, continues to semi-final of AFC Asian Cup

Iraq defeats Iran, continues to semi-final of AFC Asian Cup
Salam Shakir scored the winner as Iraq claimed a place in the semi-finals of the AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 after edging out arch-rivals Iran 7-6 on penalties following a sensational 3-3 draw at Canberra Stadium on Friday.

Sardar Azmoun had put Iran in front midway through the first-half but his side went into the break a man down after Mehrdad Pooladi was dismissed.

Ahmed Yasin’s 56th minute equalizer then took the game to extra-time where Iraq twice went in front through Younus Mahmood and Dhurgham Ismail but they were pegged back by Morteza Pouraliganji and most dramatically Reza Ghoochannejhad two minutes from the end.

But after Iran substitute Vahid Amiri drilled his penalty onto the left-hand upright, Shakir held his nerve to claim victory for Iraq and take them into Monday’s semi-final with Korea Republic at Stadium Australia in Sydney.
The opening spells of the match were frenetic and furious but amounted to little before a typical driving run down the right from Ashkan Dejagah on 24 minutes was brought to a halt through a firm tackle from Ismail.
Vouria Ghafouri, though, was on hand to pick up the pieces and whip in a venomous cross that Azmoun met with a thumping header into the bottom corner of the goal.

Alireza Haghighi then saved well from Mahmood with his feet but as the first period drew to a close there was time for a final moment of drama as Pooladi received his second yellow card of the match following a coming together with Iraq goalkeeper Jalal Hassan to see Iran go into the break a man down.

And within three minutes of the second half Iran almost saw their goal advantage disappear, too, as Yasir Kasim’s free-kick was athletically saved by a Haghighi who launched himself to his left to tip the ball over the bar.

But on 56 minutes Iraq got the equalizer they had been threatening as Alaa Abdul Zahra’s wicked cross from the left wing evaded defenders and attackers alike before Yasin latched onto the ball at the far post and drove his low angled shot through a group of players and into the net.

Iraq continued to prod and probe at the 10-man side but were unable to take further advantage of their numerical superiority before the whistle was blown for the end of the 90 minutes and a period of extra-time.
And the deadlock was blown open in just the second minute of extra time as cross from Ismail saw the ball clip off Haghighi’s outstretched leg and pounced upon by Mahmood whose stopping header found the back of the net for his eighth goal in AFC Asian Cup competitions to put Iraq 2-1 up.

A sensational spectacle was still not finished there, though, and with three minutes of the first-half of extra-time remaining Pouraliganji thundered home Andranik Teymourian’s corner with a bullet header to level the scores again.
The defender went from hero to villain with five minutes remaining of the extra-time as his crunching tackle on Kasim saw a penalty awarded to Iraq. Ismail showed impressive composure to drive his spot-kick down the middle of the goal with Haghighi already committed to his right.
Updated 23 Jan 2015 | Soruce: AIN |
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