Iran beat China in Asia Olympic qualifier

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Iran kept their slim Olympic qualification hopes alive in Teheran on Friday with a 2-1 Group A victory over China.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:04 IST
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Olympic dreams were on the line as Iran hosted China at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran on Friday. But it was the Iranians who had the best of the early chances. Mehrzad Madanchi was denied an opportunity in the 19th minute when this cross from Iman Mobali was knocked away by China's Cao Yang. Five minutes later Iran's Satar Zare raced unopposed down the left wing, only to be stopped by China's keeper An Qi. Those missed opportunities came back to haunt Iran when China opened the scoring in the 28th minute following a defensive howler by Mehrzad Madanchi. A corner kick from by Sun Xiang was headed by Hu Zhaojun towards the far post guarded by Madanchi, who allowed the ball to bounce between his legs and into the net. Iran's chances But in the 41st minute Iran equalised. Iman Mobali's piledriver from outside the box rocked the crossbar and looped high into the air. China goalkeeper An Qi failed to gather the ball under the challenge of Arash Borhani, allowing Siavash Akbarpour to bundle the ball over the line. Fourteen minutes after the re-start, Iran's Arash Borhani thought he had scored when he took the ball away from An Qi as the Chinese 'keeper set up for a goal kick. But the referee thought otherwise and to add insult to injury gave Borhani a yellow card. The Iranian breakthrough finally came 20 minutes into the second half as Alavi rose high in the China box to head home Mobali's well-flighted free-kick from the right for the winning goal. At the final whistle it was 2-1 to Iran, giving them a slim chance of qualifying for Athens 2004. The win puts Iran second in the group on six points behind South Korea, who top the table with a maximum 12 points from four matches. To have any hope of qualifying the Iranians still need to beat Malaysia in their next match on April 30th. They will then hope that China defeat South Korea five days later, then defeat the Koreans in a final showdown in Seoul on May 12th, while also making up a goal differential deficit of five in the process. (AP)

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