Islamic Republic of Iran survived a scare and progressed to the quarter-finals of the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 by defeating Syria 5-3 in a penalty shootout at Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium on Wednesday.
Iran and Syria drew 1-1 at the end of extra time in their Round of 16 clash at the Asian Cup, with Mehdi Taremi and Omar Khrbin scoring goals from the spot on either side of halftime, leading to a deadlock after 90 minutes. Extra time proved fruitless as the two sides went into the penalty shoot-outs where Alireza Beiranvand played a key role in securing the victory for Team Melli.
Iran had their first significant opportunity eight minutes into the game when Alireza Jahanbakhsh set up Sardar Azmoun inside the box. Azmoun’s initial shot was saved by goalkeeper Ahmed Madanieh, but the rebound opportunity saw Azmoun’s half-volley skied.
Madanieh showcased his skills again in the 25th minute, making a diving save to deflect Mehdi Ghayedi’s long-range strike, resulting in a corner kick. The subsequent corner nearly led to a goal when the ball reached Iran’s captain Ehsan Hajsafi at the edge of the box, but Madanieh denied him as well.
Iran vs Syria: Taremi’s antics left Team Melli in a bind
Ahmed Madanieh’s resilience was ultimately shattered 10 minutes before halftime when Mehdi Taremi confidently converted a penalty, sending the Syrian goalkeeper the wrong way. This marked Taremi’s third goal of the tournament and gave Iran a 1-0 lead.
Goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand faced his first challenge six minutes before halftime when Syrian left-back Mouaiad Al Ajjan attempted a shot from outside the box. Beiranvand confidently dealt with the effort to maintain Iran’s lead.
Seven minutes into the second half, Iran believed they had extended their lead when Sardar Azmoun’s header from Ramin Rezaeian’s corner beat the Syrian goalkeeper. However, Abdulrahman Weiss cleared the ball off the goal line, preventing Iran from doubling their advantage.
Syria found the equalizer after an hour of play when substitute Pablo Sabbag, who had just entered the game, was brought down by the Iranian goalkeeper, earning Syria a penalty. Omar Khrbin calmly converted the penalty to level the score for the Eagles of Qasioun.
Iran faced adversity in added time of the second half as Mehdi Taremi received a second yellow card, resulting in a red card and reducing Iran to ten men as they entered extra time.
After 120 minutes of play that featured limited clear-cut chances, the match between Iran and Syria concluded with a penalty shootout.
Iran converted their penalties, with Karim Ansarifard, Ramin Rezaeian, Omid Ebrahimi, Mehdi Torabi, and Ehsan Hajsafi finding the net. The pivotal moment came when Iran’s keeper, Alireza Beiranvand, made a crucial save from Fahd Youssef’s penalty. This decisive moment secured Team Melli’s place in the AFC Asian Cup quarter-finals, marking their eighth consecutive appearance in this stage of the tournament.