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Iran 1 Japan 1: Muto strike cancels out Torabi opener

A fortunate Yoshinori Muto strike saw Japan record a 1-1 draw with Iran after Mehdi Torabi had opened the scoring in Tuesday’s friendly in Tehran.

The hosts were unfortunate not to open the scoring in the 34th minute when Sardar Azmoun cleared his own team-mate Ehsan Hajsafi’s attempt off the goal line, but they grabbed the lead just before the interval when Torabi was alert after Ashkan Dejagah missed a penalty.

Vahid Halilhodzic’s men bounced back after the break, though, and Muto levelled the scoring in fortunate circumstances in the 47th minute.

The draw maintains Japan’s almost two-year unbeaten run away from home and provides momentum heading into November’s World Cup qualifiers on the road against Singapore and Cambodia.

Japan started the match the better side of the two, yet failed to create any major chances, even if star men Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda both looked dangerous on occasions.

Sloppy play in the Japanese defence should have been punished in the 34th minute, but Hajsafi’s goal-bound effort was blocked by his own team-mate, Azmoun.

Iran eventually went a goal up in the dying seconds of the first half. Maya Yoshida fouled Torabi inside the area, leaving the referee no choice but to point to the spot and the Saipa winger was on hand to convert after Dejagah’s effort was saved by Shusaku Nishikawa.

The home side could have doubled their lead immediately after the restart, yet Hajsafi failed to make the most of a fine Torabi cross and the chance went begging.

And that miss was punished barely a minute later as Iran goalkeeper Alireza Haghighi made a mess of a Honda cross from the right and the ball crawled over the goal line via Muto’s back.

The Mainz attacker should have netted a second on the hour mark after a fine pass from Takashi Usami, but Haghighi made up for his previous mistake when Muto tried to go round him, with Honda hesitating too long after picking up the rebound.

The Milan midfielder opted to test the goalkeeper again with a powerful free-kick minutes later, but saw his shot comfortably saved.

Morteza Pouraliganji got a late chance to help Iran to victory, yet his header went inches wide as it ended 1-1 in Tehran.

Tue 13 Oct, 2015
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