Vilnius: The Islamic Republic of Iran advanced to the quarter-finals of the 2021 FIFA Futsal World Cup Lithuania after a thrilling 9-8 victory over Asian rivals Uzbekistan in the round of 16 final at the Vilnius Arena on Friday.
In a spectacular encounter between two of Asia’s biggest teams, 12-time Asian champions Iran won the quarter-final match against Kazakhstan.
The all-Asian affair got off to an exciting start from the get-go, with both sides battling for possession, with Iran opening the scoring in the first minute thanks to captain Ali Asghar Hassanzadeh, before Mahdi Javid doubled his lead at the fifth minute, by courtesy of the assist from Farhad Fakhim.
The two teams last met in the 2018 AFC futsal championship with Iran winning 7-1, but Uzbekistan – strengthened by reaching the round of 16 for the first time – refused to being intimidated and fell back in the ninth minute thanks to Khusniddin Nishonov.
Iran restored their two-goal lead when Hassanzadeh became Saeid Ahmad Abbasi’s supplier to find the back of the net in the 16th minute, but Uzbekistan’s persistence gave them quick goals thanks to Dilshod Rakhmatov and Ikhtiyor Ropiev in the 17th and 18th minutes respectively to tie the tie.
Iran called their first timeout to gain the advantage over Uzbekistan which turned out to be a success as Farhad Tavakoli scored moments in the restart.
Team Melli kept their pace high in the second half with Abbasi and Javid scoring their second goals of the night in the 22nd and 25th minutes respectively.
The scintillating game continued with thrills as Anaskhon Rakhmatov slashed Uzbekistan’s deficit in the 28th minute, but Iran’s response was immediate thanks to Hassanzadeh, before Muslim Oladghobad scored two minutes later to bring the score to 8-4.
Uzbekistan refused to back down, however, and closed the gap to Ilhomjon Hamroev and Nishonov by beating Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Samimi in the 31st and 33rd minutes.
Goals galore, however, weren’t over yet as Abbasi completed their hat-trick in the 37th minute, but Uzbekistan fought back with Anaskhon and Hamroev, giving their team hope they are running out of time.
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