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Iran, Uzbekistan begin with a draw
September 12, 2003 23:28 IST
Iran fired an early second half equaliser to finish 1-1 with Uzbekistan in a evenly balanced league match in the under-19 JRD Tata Cup international football tournament in Jamshedpur on Friday.
The Uzbeks dominated most part of the first half and forged ahead through striker Umarov Bhrom in the 21st minute, but Iran stepped up a gear after the breather and restored parity through Milad Midavoodi three minutes into the second session.
Uzbekistan, who beat Iran 2-0 in the Friends Cup in Tehran early this year, took early control and put the west-Asian nation under pressure with a flurry of attacks in the first half at the JRD Tata Sports Complex.
Skipper Shorakhmiev Akuai muffed an easy chance when he latched on to a midfield pass but then shot wide from outside the box, much to the relief of the Iranian side.
For Iran, Midavoodi looked dangerous and tore apart the rival defence on many an occasion, but failed to change the scoreline, as the Uzbeks led 1-0 at the halfway mark.
The Iranian side, comprising mostly players below 18 years, regained their rhythm in the second half and displayed good combination with some accurate passing.
The equaliser came when medio Mohammad Neknafs chipped in a pass to substitute Amir Reza Bagherinia, who tapped the ball to Milad inside the box. The latter kept his cool and calmly tapped the ball into the net as the two sides shared points in their tournament lung opener.
Both teams sweated it out for the rest of the second half to snatch a winner, though the Iranians displayed much better football, making frequent forays into the Uzbek territory.
Iran came close to scoring in the 20th minute of the half when a Neknafs pass was directed towards the goal by midfielder Sayed Shahabaldin Mirmoshtaghi but custodian Lobanov rose to the occasion to bring up a fine collection.
However, medio Hamed Rasauli, who was cautioned for rough tackling just before the lemon break, again floated the ball from the right flank to Milad, and the striker dribbled past a host of Uzbek defenders but his poor shot from outside the penalty box went straight into the hands of Lobanov.
Uzbekistan seemed rudderless after two of their forwards, Umarov and Boboev Josue, were replaced by Abdullaev Sadziddin and Abdullnyer Hbbos just after the lemom break. But they regrouped midway into the second half and attacked with gusto.
While skipper Akuai's long ranger missed the target, Sadziddin's header was superbly punched over the bar by the Iranian custodian.
The match could have gone Iran's way had Milad found the mark from inside the penalty box following an accurate pass in the dying minutes, but Lobanov again proved equal to the task.