Iran breeze past India top Group D
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Bengaluru, India - Iran brushed aside India 3-0 in a one-sided World Cup qualifier on Tuesday to climb to the top of Group D on goal difference and leave the hosts glued to the bottom of the standings with three defeats in three games.
Sardar Azmoun put the visitors ahead in the 28th minute before captain Andranik Teymourian and striker Mehdi Taremi added two goals in the space of four minutes soon after the interval to wrap up the win.
India started doggedly, flying into tackles and breaking up play, but it was always going to be a matter of time before Iran, ranked 115 places above their hosts, begin to assert themselves.
Iran, who thrashed Guam 6-0 last week, soon began dominating possession and tried to find their way through a packed Indian defence that was forced to punt the ball long to keep Carlos Queiroz's men at bay.
The Portuguese manager made two changes to the side that beat Guam, bringing in striker Khosro Heydari for defender Vouria Ghafouri and giving goalkeeper Alireza Haghighi the nod ahead of Alireza Beiranvand.
India's Eugeneson Lyngdoh brought down Haji Safi and from the resulting free-kick Teymourian floated in a perfect cross that Azmoun met to nod past goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
The second and third goals came within minutes after half-time and both resulted from slack defending by the hosts.
India failed to defend a throw-in, resulting in first Azmoun and then Ashkan Dejagah causing panic and Teymourian drilled the ball into the bottom corner after the hosts failed to clear their lines.
Iran killed off the game with a third goal while India were still reeling from the second.
Pronay Halder failed to clear Azmoun's pass into the box, allowing Omid Ebrahimi to find Taremi on the right to smash home past Sandhu, who had a national team debut to forget.
“My team was a little bit surprised, we didn't expect India to be so aggressive,” Queiroz said.
“In the first half they created a lot of problems. I think India deserve to be higher in this group.”
Iran now lead Group D with a better goal difference but are tied on seven points with Oman and Guam. India have lost all three of their matches.
“Look, you face a team like Iran and there's always a chance that they have a very good day and you have a bad day and it's six, seven, eight as we've seen in recent results,” India coach Stephen Constantine said.
“I thought we fought very, very hard. I thought we made it difficult for them. Hopefully we will learn from this and move forward.”