Iran eased their way into the knockout stages of the 2007 Asian Cup with a comfortable 2 – 0 win over co-hosts Malaysia at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium on Wednesday night.
|Iran's Ali Karimi (white) fights for the ball with Malaysia's defenders|
Javad Nekounam put the visitors ahead with a penalty kick before Andranik Teymourian’s low shot sealed the night’s victory for the Iranians.
Needing a win to ensure the top spot in Group C and secure a place in the competition’s knockout phase, Iran were made to work hard by a plucky Malaysian squad.
Vahid Hashemian almost stunned the host side in the seventh minute when his close-range shot from Teymourian’s cross went straight to Malaysia’s goalkeeper Azizon Kadir.
Goalie Azizon was called into action three minutes later when he dived to deny a Reza Enayati shot on goal.
However, Iran broke the deadlock in the 29th minute when Javad Nekounam tucked away a penalty with ease after Hussain Khaironissam checked Ali Karimi’s well-timed run into the Malaysian box illegally according to referee Muhsen Basma.
The Malaysian woodwork was rattled again only moments later when Rahman Rezaei’s delicate headed cross was thumped against the bar by Hashemian.
Malaysia came close to scoring an equalizer in the 44th minute, when Shukor Adan fired a shot that brought the best out of goalkeeper Roudbarian.
Iran’s winning goal came eleven minutes from time when Teymourian converted a Mehdi Mahdavikia pass with unerring accuracy to beat Azizon at his near post.
Karimi’s last-ditch effort was turned onto the bar by goalie Azizon, proving to be the last meaningful action of a game, and although Iran won, Malaysia emerged with plaudits galore.