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Iran edges past Panama 2-1 in pre-FIFA World Cup friendly

This picture shows a view of the pre-FIFA World Cup friendly match between Iran men's national football team (players in white) and Panama in Graz, Austria, on November 9, 2017.

Iran men's national football team, domestically known as Team Melli, has defeated Panama in a friendly fixture as part of preparations for the 2018 Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup.

On Thursday evening, Team Melli put its abilities to the test before starting own campaign at the world championship of association football, and managed to beat Los Canaleros (The Canal Men) 2-1  at the end of a match staged in Graz, which is the second-largest city in Austria after the capital Vienna.

Iran started the match in a fairly dominant fashion, and took the lead in the 16th minute with a penalty from Ashkan Dejagah.

The Iranians were awarded the penalty after Panamanian defender Jan Carlos Vargas took a wild and sliding challenge on forward Karim Ansarifard.

Team Melli doubled its advantage three minutes later, when Saman Ghoddos finished off a swift break down the left.

In the 39th minute, Iranian defender Rouzbeh Cheshmi was harshly ruled to have fouled Panamanian midfielder Armando Cooper.

Gabriel Torres converted it, and pulled a goal back for Panama from the penalty spot.

On October 10, Russia held the Iran men’s national football team to a one-all draw in a FIFA World Cup warm-up match.

Team Melli defeated had defeated Togo’s Les Eperviers (The Sparrow Hawks) 2-0 in a fixture staged at Azadi Stadium in western Tehran five days earlier.

The Iran national football team defeated Uzbekistan 2-0 at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium on June 12, and became the first Asian team - and the third squad after Brazil and hosts Russia - to secure its place at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Sardar Azmoun opened the scoring for the host team in the 23rd minute.

Mehdi Taremi found the back of the net from inside the area in the 88th minute, and finished off the White Wolves.

This is the second time in a row that Team Melli has won the ticket for the FIFA World Cup finals under the tutelage of its 64-year-old Portuguese head coach Carlos Queiroz.

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