Tehran: Injury time goals from Reza Ghoochannejhad and Alireza Jahanbaksh secured a dramatic 2-0 win for three-time FIFAWorld Cup qualifiers Iran over Qatar at the Azadi Stadium on Thursday evening as Carlos Queiroz’s side made a winning start in their attempt to advance to Russia 2018. Substitute Reza Ghoochannejhad capitalized on a horrendous mistake by Qatar goalkeeper Amine Lacomte to give the home side the lead four minutes into injury time before Jahanbaksh put the result beyond doubt with a fine long range strike.
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“We had a very difficult game,” said Queiroz. “It was a tense and highly tactical match. It was obvious that Qatar was looking to take advantage of our weaknesses in the first half, therefore we had a difficult first half. “We tried to open up the game in the second half and put Qatar under more pressure. We had better scoring chances in the second half and we really played better during the half. “This Qatari side is a really good team because it is organised and they have good players. To be able to win the match, we had to fully focus and keep our opponents under pressure until the very last moment. We forced them to retreat. “I think the goal we scored revealed the truth about the game and if one of the teams deserved a win it was definitely Iran. The second goal came so naturally since Qatar had nothing to lose and they were looking for a draw.” Iran controlled much of the opening proceedings, but it was the Qataris who fashioned out the better of the goal scoring opportunities in the first 20 minutes. Sebastian Soria’s attempt from the tightest of angles did little to trouble Alireza Beiranvand in the Iran goal, who was also equal to Hassan Al Haydos’ effort soon after. Iranians slowly turned their dominance of possession into attempts on goal and Ashkan Dejagah should have done better with his effort from outside the area rather than dragging his low shot well wide of the target. Just after the half hour mark, Jahanbaksh had the Qatari goal in his sights after holding off the challenge of a pair of visiting midfielders before taking aim from the edge of the area. But, like Dejagah’s effort earlier, he did little to trouble Lacomte. The game turned increasingly disjointed during the second half, with Iranian defender Jalal Hosseini going close to opening the scoring 17 minutes from time when he met Andranik Teymourian’s corner with a header that went just wide of Lacomte’s goal. Karim Ansarifard unlocked the stubborn Qatari defence with only seconds remaining, the Greece-based forward collecting the ball before laying it into the path of Ghoochanejhad, and the Heerenveen man gleefully slotted the ball home. And with Qatar desperately pushing for an equaliser, Iran claimed a second just before the end when Jahanbaksh thumped his shot into the bottom corner from outside the area, giving Lacomte little chance.
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“I can only say that I’m sorry for the defeat, we will be better in our next games,” said Qatar coach Jose Daniel Carreno. “We had a good match, the teams were aware of one another’s strengths and weaknesses. “Both teams had limited space to play in as we knew each other very well. They were seeking to score from high crosses but we didn’t allow them to do so. However we conceded a goal by making an individual mistake. “It was a difficult and tight game. From where I watched the game, Iran’s first goal seemed to be scored from an offside position. But we made a bad mistake, our goalkeeper played the ball very bad. As it appeared to me the player who scored the first goal was offside. However the referee was in a better position and certainly made the right decision.”