Sardar Azmoun emerged as the star as Iran eased to a 3-0 win over China to set up a semi-final date with Japan in the Asian Cup.
The 24-year-old scored and provided the assist for Mehdi Taremi as Carlos Queiroz’s men made it five wins and five cleansheets in five matches in the competition.
The Iranians dominated the game from the start and it showed when they took the lead in the 18th minute. Amoun stole the ball from a hesitant Feng Xiaoting and squared it to Taremi, who netted his third goal of the tournament.
Omid Ebrahimi dominated in midfield for Iran and ensured they won the battle in the middle of the park. The star of the show – Azmoun out-muscled Liu Yiming and rounded goalkeeper Yan Junling to double Iran’s advantage shortly after the half-hour mark.
It was more of the same in the second period as China continued to struggle after the break. Iran missed a few close chances and failed to put the result beyond doubt after the turnaround.
Substitute Yu Dabao could have practically ended any hopes of a China comeback, but he missed from close range with 10 minutes remaining.
Karim Ansarifard scored the evasive third goal in injury time after yet another defensive error and confirmed Iran’s qualification to the last four.
However, Taremi picked a yellow card – his second in the tournament – and will miss the crucial semi-final clash.
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