Iran’s forward Sardar Azmoun (C) runs with the ball to scores his side’s second goal during the AFC Asian Cup group D soccer match against Vietnam on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019. (AP)

January 12, 2019

Three-time champion Iran moved closer to securing its spot in the knockout stage of the Asian Cup with a game to spare after beating Vietnam 2-0, on Saturday.

Iraq plays Yemen in another Group D game later – Iran advances if Yemen fails to win – and Saudi Arabia takes on Lebanon in Group E.

It was a record ninth successive victory for Iran in Asian Cup group stage matches. Asia’s top-ranked team has dominated possession and looked comfortable in its opening two games, scoring seven goals and still to concede.

Iran’s Sardar Azmoun took care of the goals against Vietnam, scoring in each half.

Saman Ghoddos crossed for the forward to put Iran ahead with a close-range header in the 38th minute.

Azmoun added his second in the 69th with a left-footed strike from the middle of the box for his third goal at the tournament.

Iran has six points while Vietnam registered its second straight defeat following a 3-2 loss to Iraq.

Iran is led by former Real Madrid and Portugal coach, Carlos Queiroz, who is chasing a major title with Iran after eight years in charge.

The top two teams in each group and the four best third-placed teams advance to the round of 16.

AP

About Track Persia

Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.