Goa, India : Iran made its way into its first-ever quarterfinal on the back of a nervy and pulsating 2-1 win against Mexico in the Round-of-16 clash at the Fatorda stadium yesterday.
Goals from Mohammad Sharifi and Allahyar Sayyad helped the Abbas Chamanian-coached side maintain its unbeaten run at the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
On the eve of yesterday’s game, Mexico coach Mario Arteaga had hoped for a better response from his side if it fell behind and he got exactly that.
His side was quick off the blocks but its bright start in the opening proceedings was cancelled out by two defensive errors at the back, which led to Iran racing to a 2-0 lead within the first 12 minutes.
Mohammed Ghaderi, who returned to the starting line-up, was brought down inside the box by right-back Adrian Vasquez. Sharifi stepped up to place it low to the right of Cesar Lopez, who went the other way.
In the 10th minute, Lopez was beaten once again when he was caught off his line by Sayyad, who was the quickest to react to a long punt upfield from his goalkeeper Ali Gholam Zadeh.
Mexico had a chance to get itself back in the game through its No. 9 Daniel Lopez, but he lost his shooting boots just as he was about to take a shot at goal. Mexico regrouped itself after the water break in the first half and came back strongly to punish Iran for taking its foot off the pedal. Roberto de la Rosa was both the architect and the one to apply the finishing touches for its opening goal.
The midfielder played the ball over the top which stretched the Iranian back-line. He then ghosted onto a Diego Lainez’s effort which was not cleared from the box before lashing a drive into the bottom left corner.
The Iranian side was breached for the first time in the regulation 90 minutes of play in the whole tournament.