Late Strike by Iranian Substitute Beats Uzbekistan

Iran came from behind to beat Uzbekistan 2 – 1 and take second spot in Group C after their first 2007 Asian Cup match at Bukit Jalil National Stadium on Wednesday.

Uzbekistan's Vitaliy Denisov (blue) vies with Iran's Javad Kazemian

Uzbekistan were given the lead when Iranian defender Rahman Rezaei scored an own goal, however Iran staged a stirring second-half comeback, leveling with a header by Seyed Jalal Hosseini in the 55th minute before substitute Javad Kazemian secured the night’s win with a late goal.

Uzbekistan struggled to fashion chances, with one good opportunity squandered in the fifth minute when Timur Kapadze cut in to reach a Vitaliy Denisov cross, only to header the ball straight to Iran’s goalkeeper, Hassan Roudbarian.

Iran replied two minutes later when Ali Karimi’s fine pass reached unmarked Vahid Hashemian, unfortunately Uzbek goalkeeper, Pavel Bugalo, brilliantly saved his shot.

Bugalo was called upon moments later when he left his line to prevent Iranian forward Hashemian from taking a shot.

Both sides were still settling into their stride when Uzbekistan took the lead following a dreadful error by Rezaei.

Chasing a hopeful long ball lofted forward by Denisov, the Livorno defender appeared to have the better of Ulugbek Bakaev but unfortunately headed the ball back into his own goal from the edge of the box.

Iran’s struggle to produce meaningful chances continued. Meanwhile, Uzbekistan almost doubled their lead when Kapadze’s header from captain Server Djeparov’s free-kick went wide.

Iran could have equalized near halftime but the Al Emarat forward Rassoul Khatibi glanced his header wide off Hashemian's cross.

However, the regional heavyweights emerged from the break with renewed purpose and were back on equal terms within 10 minutes when defender Hosseini headed Captain Mehdi Mahdavikia's corner down into the net to level the scores.

Reza Enayati looked odds-on to put Iran in front until his close range shot was put wide.

Half-time-substitute Kazemian eventually snatched it for Iran; he ran on to Andranik Teymourian's through-ball, finishing it coolly with his right foot in the 77th minute.

Group C

By Hoang Uy

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