Tehran: Iran scraped past bottom placed Thailand by a solitary goal at home in an Asian Group A World Cup qualifier on Friday in Tehran. This win puts Iran in second place in their group, just two points behind Saudi Arabia. The Saudi's won 2-1 against Iraq and also on Friday. The Group winners automatically qualify for the World Cup finals, while runners-up playoff for the chance then face either Ireland or Portugal. The Iranians had their first opportunity 15 minutes after kick-off, but Ali Kharimi's shot was knocked away by Thailand's Anuruck Srikerd. Four minutes later, Iranian skipper Ali Daei collided with Ranwagpa, but Iran's Alireza Nikbaht Vehedi missed an open goal. The 32nd minute saw Thailand's Anuruck Srikerd sidelined for injury treatment and Iran made full use of their opponents, being one man less. Ali Karimi's nice footwork opened a gap in the Thai defence. Alireza Nikbaht Vahedi made no mistake this time giving Iran a 1-0 lead. Iran had two more good chances, but each time they were denied by the woodwork. The second half also saw some shoddy attacking. Thailand almost had an equalizer in the 79th minute when Iranian keeper Mirzapour Ebrahim bungled Sutee Suksomkit's cross right to Thai skipper Kiatisuk Senamuang - but his shot went high from point blank range, Iran holding on to a 1-0 win. In another qualifier, Saudi Arabia wasted no time in grabbing the lead against Iraq just seconds after kickoff when Abdullah Binshehan converted Mohammed Al-Schloub's cross. But Iraq levelled scores in the 31st minute, with Mawa Mullah Mohammed's shot finding Abdul Wahad Abulheil, who powerfully headed the ball past the Saudi keeper. Iraq, facing an end to their World Cup campaign if they lost, pressed forward, but were unlucky when Qahtan Chathir's fine strike found the woodwork. The Saudis managed the winner in the 71st minute as substitute Ibrahim Harbi's shot deflected off the Iraqi keeper to Abdullah Binshehan, who easily scored his second goal of the match. Iraq went in the hunt for an equalizer desperately, but to no avail. Saudi Arabia remains in the lead in Group A while Iraq are now out of contention for a place in the World Cup.
Topics : Football