Iran men’s national soccer team has pulled off a glorious victory in its fourth 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying match, breezing past the Turkmenistan with a vast array of wasted scoring chances.
On Thursday, the Iranian outfit, which settled for a 1-1 draw against Oman in its previous Group D showdown at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Muscat on October 8, pummeled the Central Asian side 3-1 in a match staged at Azadi Stadium in western Tehran.
The hosts got off to a strong start, and applied a spell of pressure on Turkmenistan’s goal since the beginning moments of the match.
In the 4th minute, Iranian football player Vahid Amiri, who currently plays for Naft Tehran club in the Persian Gulf Pro League, received a pass from a teammate in the visitors’ penalty area, but his header hit a Turkmen defender and went off.
Two minutes later, Iran’s 29-year-old Ashkan Dejagah sent a ball on Turkmenistan’s goal from the left side, and Morteza Pouraliganji, who currently plays for Tianjin Teda in the Chinese Super League, put the ball at the back of Turkmenistan’s net to open the scoring for the Persians.
Dejagah then received a good pass in the opposite side’s penalty area in the 10th minute, and directed the ball at Turkmenistan keeper Mammet Orazmuhammedow, who pulled off a save and stopped Iranians from scoring the second goal.
Ehsan Hajsafi had a fine opportunity to double Iran’s lead in the 14th minute, but Orazmuhammedow parried his shot.
In the 25th minute, Dejagah kicked a corner toward Turkmenistan’s goal from the left side of the pitch, but Pouraliganji, who was lurking in the box, failed to beat.
Turkmen soccer players seized their first scoring chance five ministers later, but Iran goalie Alireza Haghighi and defenders did not allow the visitors to equalize the match.
Iranian football players were awarded a number of opportunities to place the ball into the back of Turkmenistan’s net in the remaining minutes, though they simply squandered the chances.
After the break, Iran head coach Carlos Queiroz fielded Alireza Jahanbakhsh in place of Amiri.
The Persians maintained their pressure on the Turkmen team, and it was in the 50th minute that Kaveh Rezaei got a deep pass set up by a teammate, but a Turkmen soccer player executed a tackle to prevent the 23-year-old Iranian player from making it two for the hosts.
Iran’s Mehdi Torabi earned an empty net goal two minutes later, but shot the ball wide much to the spectators’ surprise.
The Turkmens were awarded a corner in the 61st minute, and Mekan Saparov could successfully nail it to level the score at 1-1.
The visitors’ jubilation, however, did not last long as Iranian footballer Saeed Ezzatollahi Afagh placed the ball in the right side Turkmenistan’s net in the 64th minute.
In the 70th minute, Jahanbakh received a good pass from Dejagah, and his header was directed straight at the Turkmen keeper, who mismanaged to make a save and send the ball out.
Hajsafi took the corner kick and Ezzatollah Pourghaz directed a header toward Turkmenistan’s goal, but the ball went overhead.
In the 80th minute, Reza Ghoochannejhad Nournia, who plays for English club Charlton Athletic, was brought down by a Turkmen footballer in the box, and the Persians were awarded a penalty.
Dejagah struck the penalty and sealed the 3-1 victory for the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Iran will take on Guam in its next 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying match at the Guam Football Association Field in Dededo on November 17.