Unbeaten in eight qualifying games, Team Melli maintained the dominant position in Group A with a stunning 11th consecutive clean sheet on their way to their fifth World Cup appearance. Iran is the first Asian country that can start planning for the big event and second only to Brazil, which downed Paraguay last week to qualify for the tourney.
Right after the game’s final whistle was blown, people from all walks of life poured into the streets across the country to celebrate their team’s entry to the World Cup.
President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif posted on their social media pages to express congratulations to all Iranians and appreciations to Team Melli players. In his twitter account, Rouhani congratulated the players on their “decisive advance” to the 2018 World Cup, and thanked them for “making all Iranians happy,” and Zarif posted a photo of cheerful Iranian fans in the stadium with a congratulatory caption.
Azmoun opened the scoring midway through the first half to put Team Melli in control. He received a sublime through ball behind the defense line from Alireza Jahanbakhsh and rolled the ball under goalkeeper Aleksandr Lobanov into the net.
Captain Masoud Shojaei could have doubled the lead early in the second half when Taremi was downed in the box and Iran was awarded a penalty spot-kick, which the midfielder squandered far over the bar. In the dying minutes of the second half, Taremi found the ball inside the box, feinted past the Uzbek defenders and lobbed the ball low into the bottom corner to clinch the victory