Mon, Feb 12, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Iran defend championship with 4-0 Japan shutout

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Iran players celebrate defeating Japan in the Asian Football Confederation Futsal Championship final yesterday in New Taipei City.

Photo: Ritchie B. Tongo, EPA

Iran yesterday defended their title after weathering a blistering battle in the first half and scoring three goals in the second to defeat Japan 4-0 in the final of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Futsal Championship at New Taipei City’s Sinjhuang Gymnasium.

It was the 12th AFC Futsal trophy for Asian powerhouse Iran. In the last edition of the tournament in 2016, Iran narrowly prevailed with a 2-1 win over hosts Uzbekistan.

Japan were recent winners in 2012 and 2014, but Iran — their traditional futsal adversary — were too powerful to overcome this time.

It was a thrilling affair in the first half, as both sides probed for weaknesses in the defense to snag the opening goal.

Both teams had excellent chances to take the lead throughout the first half, with Japan launching repeated forays and leading the shot attempt tally, but Iran goalkeeper Alireza Samimi was equal to the task.

Just before halftime, Team Melli opened the scoring when Farhad Tavakoli made a marauding run down the left side and sent a cross to Ali Asghar Hassanzadeh, who shot past Japan’s Brazilian ’keeper Higor Pires.

Two minutes after the half, Tavakoli received a pass and found the net at close range to double the lead.

The Samurai Warriors were deflated after going down two goals, but Japanese supporters continued to cheer, drum and shout “Nippon, Nippon!” They also held a banner that read “Japan and Taiwan, Together Go, Go, Go.”

As Japan poured on the attack, Team Melli found more chances at the other end, as three-time Asian futsal player award winner Hassanzadeh struck his second on a counterattack and pushed the game out of reach.

With three minutes remaining, Japan opted for a power play with an extra attacker, but with the net open, Iran’s defense held firm, and Hossein Tayebi notched the fourth goal for Team Melli.

In the third-place match, Uzbekistan won the bronze after defeating Iraq in a shoot-out following a 2-2 tie at regulation.

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