In an evenly balanced match with a wild final phase, the effective hosts Qatar beat Iran. Their opponents in the final are now Jordan, who had previously eliminated South Korea
Iran started with a familiar face: ex-Leverkusen player Azmoun started in attack. Jahanbakhsh, the scorer of the winning goal in the surprising 2-1 quarter-final victory over Japan, was in the first eleven, as was Taremi, who was suspended against Samurai Blue. He replaced Mohebi, who had scored the equalizer in the quarter-final. Abdurisag and Ahmed were two newcomers to Qatar’s starting line-up compared to the penalty shootout win against Uzbekistan, while captain Al-Haydos was forced to sit on the bench.
Azmoun opens the scoring spectacularly
Iran took a spectacular lead in the fourth minute. Azmoun scored with an overhead kick after an extended throw-in. After Taremi had missed the 2:0 (12′), the ball rang in at the other end. Jassem Gaber had a free shot from the second row, but Ezatolahi deflected the ball beyond Beiranvand’s reach (17′).
After a few even minutes, Afif had the 2:1 for Qatar on his feet, but found his master in Iran’s goalkeeper Beiranvand (33). Ten minutes later, he was able to beat the Iranian goalkeeper: His shot into the far corner marked the half-time lead for the defending champions. Iran almost equalized in stoppage time of the first half: Lucas Mendes saved from Kanaani on the line after a corner.
Manual penalty brings Iran back
The time had come shortly after the break: Iran came out of the break full of pressure, Ezatolahi hit Fathi on the hand with a shot in the penalty area and after a lengthy review, the penalty was awarded. Jahanbakhsh did not miss the opportunity and equalized from the spot (51′). Qatar had a double chance to regain the lead on the counter-attack, but Abdurisag’s shot and Pedro Correia’s header were cleared at the last moment
VAR red after a cold shower
The next 20 minutes were uneventful before Iran built up the pressure again. There were no compelling opportunities, however, and Qatar’s Almoez Ali caught the Iranians off guard in the 82nd minute. After Rezaeian was ruled offside, the striker found himself free in front of Beiranvand after his team-mate Hatem’s shot went wide and he fired into the bottom left corner. Qatar took the lead again!
The task then did not necessarily get any easier for Iran: Khalilzadeh initially saw yellow after a body check on Afif. The VAR corrected the decision to red – Iran were outnumbered from then on. However, it was almost enough to equalize, but a shot from Jahanbakhsh hit the inside of the post (90. + 14).
The effective tournament hosts Qatar are now through to the final of the Asian Cup and can defend their title against Jordan on Saturday.