Iran qualify for World Cup 2022 with victory over Iraq

Dragan Skocic's team made it to the World Cup for sixth time with 1-0 win on Thursday

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Mehdi Taremi was on target on Thursday as Iran secured a 1-0 victory over Iraq and qualified for the 2022 World Cup.

Porto striker Taremi scored in the 48th minute from inside the penalty box on a pass from midfield Ali Reza Jahanbakhsh at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran to secure World Cup qualification for the sixth time.

They extended their unbeaten run since Croatian head coach Dragan Skocic took over in February 2020, with 11 wins and one draw.

Iran have 19 points from seven games in Group A, two ahead of South Korea, who are within touching distance of a 10th successive World Cup appearance after a 1-0 win over Lebanon.

With Tottenham forward Son Heung-min out injured, replacement forward Cho Gue-song scored from close range in Sidon just before halftime. South Korea can secure qualification with a win against Syria on Tuesday.

The UAE stayed eight points behind in third with a 2-0 win over Syria. The top two teams from each group qualify automatically. The third-place teams advance to a playoff.

Both Iran and Iraq teams were hit by the absence of players following positive tests for Covid-19. Bayer Leverkusen's Sardar Azmoun was among five Iranian players missing, along with eight Iraqi players.

Iran have played in the World Cup finals five times in the past - in 1978, 1998, 2006, 2014 and 2018 - while Iraq's last and only participation was in Mexico 1986.

Meanwhile, Iranian women were allowed for the first time in almost three years to attend a football match of their country's national team in Tehran.

World football's governing body FIFA ordered Iran in 2019 to allow women access to stadiums without restriction and in numbers determined by demand for tickets.

A month later women were able to attend a 2022 World Cup qualifying match between Iran and Cambodia at the Azadi Stadium. For the first match since then, 2,000 of the 10,000 tickets were set aside for women on Thursday for the qualifier against Iraq.

Updated: January 28, 2022, 6:14 AM