Iran Keeps Unbeaten Record Against Panama

Iran is undefeated since March. In recent friendlies, Team Melli has recorded victories over Montenegro and Togo plus a worthy 1-1 draw against Russia last month
Iran is the first Asian team to seal a berth in the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia.Iran is the first Asian team to seal a berth in the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia.

Iran extended its unbeaten run to nine games as they move towards the 2018 FIFA World Cup with a 2-1 win over Panama on Thursday in Graz, Styria, Austria.

Team Melli opened the scoring at the Liebenauer Stadium in the 15th minute when Ashkan Dejagah converted from the penalty spot, after Karim Ansarifard had been hacked down inside the area, reported.

Just three minutes later, Iran doubled its lead with Ansarifard again playing a pivotal role, providing a neat through-pass for Saman Ghoddos to run onto and finish past goalkeeper Jose Calderon.

It was Ghoddos’ first goal for Team Melli, scored in his third match for Iran. In October the Iranian-Swedish midfielder decided to wear the jersey of Iran’s national team despite being invited to play for Sweden.

Panama did pull one back six minutes before halftime through a penalty. Iran defender Rouzbeh Cheshmi’s awkward challenge on Armando Cooper paved the way for Gabriel Torres to fire past goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand.

Nonetheless, the Iranians, headed by Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz, were able to hold out for the remainder of the contest to claim another morale-boosting win against Panama which will also feature at next summer’s World Cup in Russia.

The win saw Iran, the first Asian team to seal FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia qualification, continue its fine form.

Iran is undefeated since March. In recent friendlies, Iran recorded victories over Montenegro and Togo, as well as a creditable 1-1 draw against Russia last month. Iran’s last defeat was a 1-0 reversal against Iraq in a friendly in March.

Iran will be playing in its fifth World Cup next year while for Panama it is the first time on the global soccer map.

Team Melli will next be in action on Monday when the national squad travels to the Netherlands to face Venezuela that finished at the bottom end in the South American qualifiers and should be no match for Queiroz’s in-form charges.

  Panama Coach Satisfied

Despite the loss, Panama’s coach Hernan Dario Gomez was satisfied with his team’s performance against the Iranians.

The Central American team did not have eight of its main players due to injuries and club commitments. “Regardless of the result, I am satisfied with my team. In the second half, we played a very disciplined style and dominated the match,” Gomez told the Panamanian television channel RPC.

“Panama had problems in the first half but we improved in the second half and could even equalize the match,” he added.

  Other Asian Qualifiers

Asia’s other FIFA World Cup qualifiers were also in action on Friday as they continued their buildup to Russia 2018.

South Korea, aiming to put an end to the six-game winless streak, was victorious against Colombia at the home turf, in Suwon World Cup Stadium, beating its South American rival 2-1.

Despite the wins earned by Iran and South Korea, Japan, another Asian team in the next World Cup, was not lucky enough as they lost to five-time world champions Brazil 1-3, at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille, France.


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