Yemen suffered a tough start to life at the Asian Cup as they were beaten 5-0 by Iran in their opening Group D match in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
Jan Kocian’s side are competing in the tournament for the first time – along with Kyrgyzstan and the Philippines – but they were made to toil at the Mohamed bin Zayed Stadium by their more experienced opponents.
Yemen had started the game well, with Ahmed Al Sarori darting into Iran's penalty area and flashing a seventh-minute shot narrowly over the bar.
But Iranian striker Mehdi Taremi scored twice in the first half to put the opponents on the backfoot.
Looking to end a 43-year title drought since last winning Asian football’s most coveted prize, Iran took just 12 minutes to take the lead as Taremi finished clinically from close range after a shot from Sardar Azmoun was fumbled by Yemen goalkeeper Saoud Al Sowadi.
Tractor Sazi star Ashkan Dejagah doubled his side’s tally on 23 minutes. The midfielder’s free-kick found the back of the net thanks to a combination of woodwork and Al Sowadi.
Taremi then bagged his second of the night by heading home Ramin Rezaeian’s pinpoint cross in the 25th minute.
The Iranians continued to pile on the pressure in the second half, with Al Sowadi having to keep out two Azmoun headers. The Rubin Kazan forward, however, finished from close-range on 53 minutes to further extend Iran’s lead.
Substitute Saman Ghoddos added a fifth from the edge of the area on 78 minutes. It could have been half a dozen goals for Iran had Mehdi Torabi’s fierce drive not struck the post in added time.
Iran showed no sign of relenting as the game progressed, with Azmoun only denied by Mudir Abdurabu’s excellent challenge when through on goal, and the frontman crashing a shot against the bar with 14 minutes remaining.
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This is not to say Yemen did not have positives to take from the game.
They were competitive throughout the match during which they created at least two scoring opportunities. They were also fast on the pitch, especially in the opening 10 minutes of the game.
However, they will have to pick themselves up for another tough contest against Iraq in Sharjah on Saturday. They then meet Vietnam in the final group game four days thereafter.
Meanwhile, Iran will seek to build on their victory when they face Vietnam at Abu Dhabi’s Al Nahyan Stadium on Sunday.
(With inputs from agencies)