AFC Asian Cup: Iran draw with China, Bahrain defeat Korea

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Iran have scored late to draw 2-2 with China in their 2007 AFC Asian Cup Group C fixture.

China made a dominant start over the Iranians, and were rewarded on five minutes when Shao Jiayi struck a curling free kick into the top-left hand corner of the goal, despite Iranian goalkeeper Hassan Roudbarian getting one hand to the shot.

Mao Jianqing then doubled China's advantage after thirty-six minutes. A defensive error saw an Iranian central defender become attracted to the ball rather than the attackers, and Zheng Zhi crossed a ball from the right which found Mao. He took a touch off his chest and then struck the half-volley into the bottom-left hand corner.

Iran managed to equalize just before the break. A free kick was awarded to the Iranian team twenty-five yards out from China's goal, and after a short lay-off, Zandi struck a curling strike which beat a diving Li Leilei in the China goal.

The Iranians then found an equalizer. Captain Mehdi Mahdavikia swung a ball in from the right hand side of the field after a corner was taken short, and Nekounam jumped high at the near post to put Iran level after seventy-three minutes.

Iran will play Malaysia and China meet Uzbekistan in the final matches of the group. Given Malaysia's form in the tournament to date, it is likely that Iran will defeat the co-hosts. If this occurs, or Malaysia holds Iran to a draw, Uzbekistan must defeat China to progress to the quarter-finals, whilst a draw would be enough for the Chinese. Malaysia cannot mathematically make the next round.

In Group D, Bahrain have scored late to defeat Korea Republic 2-1.

Kim Do-Heon put the Koreans one goal up after just four minutes after Bahrain failed to clear a free kick properly. However, two minutes before half time, Salman Isa put Bahrain level after a free kick by Mohamed Hosain found Isa on the back post.

The Koreans were the more aggressive team in the second half, but failed to finish their chances. In the eighty-fifth minute, Bahrain found the winner when Ismaeel Abdullatif capitalized on a defensive mistake by Kim Jung-woo to score.

Korea must beat Indonesia at the Bung Karno Stadium, Jakarta two goals or more and have the result of the other game, between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, not end in a draw to progress to the quarter-finals. Bahrain must defeat the Saudi Arabians to progress.

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