TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Iran overcame a spirited challenge from Afghanistan to top Group A of the AFC U-20 Championship 2019 with a 3-2 win over their neighbor on Sunday.
- Sports news -
Iran, who is looking to defend the title won in 2017, will face Lebanon in the quarter-finals while Afghanistan will take on Group B winner Thailand on Tuesday.
Backed by a partisan crowd, Iran was in front just three minutes in when Masoud Yousef Shavardazi outmuscled Hassan Ali Jafari at the half-line mark before surging forward and beating keeper Mohammad Javad Safari from a tight angle.
After 15 minutes of constant pressure, Afghanistan found its equalizer through Ali Arabzadeh, who connected to Hossein Mousavi's perfectly timed pass in front of the goalmouth to ensure the scores were level at the break.
Iran, however, showed its class when Sahand Rezapour fended off Farzad Mahmoodi and sent the ball to Reza Ghanbari, who controlled the ball with confidence before slotting home in the 30th minute.
A moment of sheer brilliance by Shavardazi saw the host nation double its lead after he dribbled past two defenders and let loose an unstoppable strike a minute later.
Mojtaba Mohammadi was sent on as the power player in the 38th minute and he delivered just moments later but a third goal which would have seen Afghanistan emerge as group winner proved elusive as Iran held on for the three points.