Asian Cup 2015 (Qs) MD3: Iran 2-1 Thailand

Despite dominating the match at the Azadi Stadium, the home side were frustrated by the Thais until centre-back Hosseini broke the deadlock in the 67th minute and Ghoochannejhad tapped in a second shortly afterwards,

Teerasil Dangda pulled a goal back for the visitors with 10 minutes left but despite missing a few chances to put the game to bed, the Iranians still picked up the win to move up to seven points from three games, two in front of second-placed Kuwait, who drew 1-1 at Lebanon earlier in the day.

Despite the win, Iran coach Carlos Queiroz lamented the disjointed performance of his team, who had not played an international match since a 1-0 win over Korea Republic in a World Cup qualifier in June.

“I think after four months without preparations and friendlies, it was natural to see our team put out a dull performance in the first period when there was an obvious lack of organisation. However, our players gradually got better and they improved all the way through the match to the end,” said the Portuguese.

“For sure, it was not a good game for us and also the result did not exactly show the effort we put into the game as we missed a couple of very good chances and Thailand’s goal was an accident.

“But tonight’s match should be regarded as a wake-up call for Iranian football as there is no football team in the world who can survive after staying four complete months in the absolute wilderness.”

After a disappointing first half, the Iranians picked up their game after the interval but they were continually frustrated by the Thai defence and goalkeeper Sinthaweechai Hathairattankool and the Thai defence until they finally made the crucial breakthrough midway through the half.

An Iranian corner was half-cleared and as the Thais attempted to push up, the ball was played back towards the edge of the box where Hosseini neatly sidestepped a challenge before chipping the ball to the right of the sprawling Sinthaweechai.

Buoyed by the goal, the hosts added a second just three minutes later after some fine work on the left flank by substitute Karim Ansarifard who surged past a defender before sending a low cross to the far post where Ghoochannejhad easily tapped home.

The Thais made things interesting in the closing minutes when Narong Jansawek gained possession on the edge of the Iranian box with 10 minutes left and laid it off for Teerasil, who rifled it into the top left corner past a static Rahman Ahmadi.

But the Iranians should have sealed victory in the 85th minute through Mohammad Reza Khalatbari, whose fierce effort from 10 metres was brilliantly turned over the crossbar bySinthaweechai.

While the Iranians are flying high in the group, the Thais remained rooted to the bottom with no points from three games.

“We came to Tehran to get at least one point to give us something to build on for our return match in Bangkok but things didn’t proceed as we expected,” said Thailand coach Surachai Jaturapattarapong.

“Now, we have to use all our chances in the best way possible at home to try to get a point. But Iran are an Asian powerhouse who have already qualified for the World Cup and so the return match will also be difficult for us.”