Iran Seals Top Spot in Group D: AFC Asian Cup
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Iran national football team sealed top spot in Group D of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 after playing to a 0-0 draw with Iraq at a packed Maktoum Stadium in Dubai on Wednesday.
As group winner, Iran will play the third-placed team from either Group B, E or F in Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium on Sunday, while runner-up Iraq will face the winner of Group E - either Saudi Arabia or Qatar - in Al Nahyan Stadium on Tuesday.
Despite having secured qualification to the Round of 16, both sides adopted a high-tempo style of play, with Iran having the first glimpse at goal in the 12th minute when Vahid Amiri sent a cross into the box but Sardar Azmoun’s header was just off the mark.
Iran had the bigger share of the ball but failed to translate its possession into goals, with its attempts hardly troubling Iraqi goalkeeper Jalal Hassan Hachim and his defenders.
Iraq started the second half aggressively as the team saw more possession and also continued to deny Iran with resilient defending.
Iran, in a bid to break down the Iraq defense, boosted its attacking prowess by bringing on Mehdi Taremi and Mehdi Torabi in the 63rd and 75th minutes respectively.
However, it was Iraq who nearly took the lead in the 77th minute when substitute Mohanad Ali Khadi’s header forced the best out of Iranian custodian Alireza Beiranvand, who tipped the ball over.
As the minutes ticked away, neither team was able to make headway as they settled for a share of the spoils.