Iran, Iraq ad­vance

Sun.Star Cebu - - PRIME SPORTS -

Iran and Iraq ad­vanced to the knock­out stages of the Asian Cup on Satur­day with a game to spare.

Three-time cham­pion Iran beat Viet­nam 2-0 and se­cured its spot in the round of 16 when 2015 semi­fi­nal­ist Iraq beat Ye­men 3-0 in an­other Group D game.

An­other three-time cham­pion, Saudi Ara­bia, moved closer to gain­ing its spot in the next round after beat­ing Le­banon 2-0 in Group E.

With two wins each, Iran and Iraq meet in Dubai on Wed­nes­day to de­cide the group win­ner.

Saudi Ara­bia meets Qatar on Thurs­day to close the group stage in a highly charged game amid the po­lit­i­cal ten­sions be­tween the two na­tions.

The top two teams in each group and the four best third­placed teams ad­vance to the round of 16.

It was a record ninth suc­ces­sive vic­tory for Iran in Asian Cup group matches. Asia’s top-ranked team has dom­i­nated pos­ses­sion and looked com­fort­able in its open­ing two games, scor­ing seven goals with­out con­ced­ing.

Iran’s Sar­dar Az­moun took care of the goals against Viet­nam, scor- ing in each half.

Sa­man Ghod­dos crossed for the for­ward to put Iran ahead with a close-range header be­fore half­time. Az­moun added his sec­ond in the 69th with a left-footed strike from the mid­dle of the box for his third goal at the tour­na­ment.

Viet­nam lost a sec­ond straight match after fall­ing to Iraq 3-2.

Iran is led by for­mer Real Madrid and Por­tu­gal coach Car­los Queiroz, who is chas­ing a ma­jor ti­tle with Iran after eight years in charge.

In Shar­jah, Mo­hanad Ali Kad­him and Bashar Re­san Bonyan scored with low shots from out­side of the area early in the first half to give Iraq a com­fort­able ad­van­tage against Ye­men. Sub­sti­tute Alaa Abbas sealed it in sec­ond-half in­jury time. /

AP FOTO

YES! Ali Al­bu­layhi cel­e­brates with goal­keeper Mo­hammed Al-Owais after Saudi Ara­bia scores the opener against Le­banon.

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