Iran stun Russia in friendly

Second consecutive defeat for 2018 World Cup hosts after shock 1-0 loss to Iran in Abu Dhabi.

    The result was Russia's second defeat in a row after losing to Belgium on home soil last year [AFP]

    Mohammad Reza Khalatbari was the hero as he scored a last-minute winner to power Iran to a shock 1-0 victory in a friendly played in Abu Dhabi.

    Russia dominated for most of the game, and piled the pressure on Iran, but rarely troubled goalkeeper Mahdi Rahmati.

    Khalatbari sprung the offside trap before evading two Russian defenders and beating goalkeeper Igor Akinfeyev with a rising shot from close range with one minute left in a rare Iran counterattack.

    After scoring the goal, Khalatbari was given a second yellow card for removing his jersey, leaving his side to defend their lead with 10 men.

    It was Iran's first ever win over the European stars after three defeats, the last of which came in 1985.

    Potential coach

    International results

     Andorra 1-2 Moldova
     Armenia 1-2 Georgia
     Belarus 1-1 Kazakhstan
     Greece 1-0 Canada
     Iran 1-0 Russia
     Latvia 2-1 Bolivia
     Turkey 0-0 South Korea
     Macedonia 0-1 Cameroon
     Croatia 4-2 Czech Republic
     Azerbaijan 0-2 Hungary
     Israel 0-2 Serbia
     South Africa 2-0 Kenya 
     Albania 1-2 Slovenia
     Estonia 2-2 Bulgaria
     Denmark 1-2 England
     Luxembourg 2-1 Slovakia
     Belgium 1-1 Finland
     Malta 0-0 Switzerland
     Netherlands 3-1 Austria
     Poland 1-0 Norway
     Scotland 3-0 N Ireland
     Germany 1-1 Italy
     Argentina 2-1 Portugal
     France 1-0 Brazil
     Spain 1-0 Colombia

    Former Portugal and Real Madrid coach Carlos Queiroz watched the game, amid local media reports which named Queiroz as a potential next coach of Iran, replacing Afshin Ghotbi who departed to join Japanese side Shimizu S-Pulse following Iran's elimination at last month's Asian Cup.

    The match was played inside a near-empty Sheikh Zayed stadium and defeat will add pressure on coach Dick Advocaat after many Russian football experts had questioned the wisdom of playing Iran in the Gulf region.

    Advocaat defended his decision, saying his players lacked match fitness but that it was still a good test for his team before they resume their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.

    "Most of our players are only getting ready for their season and they train twice a day, therefore some of them looked really tired in the second half," the Dutchman told a news conference.

    "I tried to do as many substitutions as I could at half-time but it didn't help much. Unfortunately, people in Russia will remember this match as one big disappointment."

    Igor Denisov and Alexander Kerzhakov drew saves from Rahmati early in the game but with the Russian league on an almost four-month winter break, and most players on practice camps, the team lacked fluency.

    The match was Russia's last warm-up ahead of their Euro 2012 away qualifier against Armenia on March 26. Russia lead the Group B standings with nine points from four games.

    Armenia, Ireland and Slovakia are tied for second two points behind. 

    SOURCE: Agencies


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