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Thursday, 13 January 2011

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Iran on target as N Korea hold UAE

Iran shattered Iraqi dreams in a 2-1 victory on Tuesday, while North Korea were forced into a desperate rearguard action to hold off United Arab Emirates as the Asian Cupís opening games wrapped up.

The Iranians stormed back from a goal down to beat their arch-rivals and defending champions and now top Group D after North Korea and UAE fought out a 0-0 stalemate.

Iman Mobali was the hero for Iran, his free-kick drifting in with six minutes left for an emotional win that followed a period of silence ahead of the game to honour 77 people who died on Sunday in an Iran plane crash. After that sombre moment at Al-Rayyan Stadium, the game between the two countries, who fought a war from 1980 to 1988, burst into life.

Iraqi talisman Younis Mahmoud stunned Iran with the opener, sliding in at the far post on 13 minutes to score from close range after Emad Mohammed had cleverly nodded the ball back across goal.

It sparked the three-time champions into life and the equalisier came on 42 minutes after former Bolton Wanderers man Andranik Teymourian chipped the ball cleverly through to an unmarked Gholam Reza Rezai. Rezai, who had just stayed onside, duly rifled the ball in for a leveller they fully deserved before Mobaliís late intervention to get the winner and break Iraqi hearts. Iraq now have their work cut out if they want to defend the title they won against the odds in 2007, with games against UAE on Saturday before a potential must-win encounter with North Korea four days later.

UAE and North Korea couldnít find the net in their clash, but not for want of trying. The Koreans, who reached the World Cup in South Africa but lost all three games, withstood a barrage of UAE pressure throughout the 90 minutes at the Qatar Sports Club Stadium. DOHA, AFP

 

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