The AFC 2022 World Cup qualifiers have been going on with the third round of fixtures played during the international break. On Tuesday Asian giants Iran lost to Bahrain in their qualifier in the filled Bahrain National stadium.
The ongoing tensions in the Middle East were seen from the start of the game with Bahrain fans jeering the Iran national anthem while their players were smiling to the anthem. This act infuriated the Iranians in what proved to be a testy game.
The game began as a cagey one with Bahrain maintaining discipline at the back and Iran with the bulk of possession. There few chances between Iran testing the Bahrain stopper from distance.
The first half ended goalless and the second half began in a similar fashion as the host began to gain confidence. Bahrain managed to find the breakthrough after a series of events led to the award of a penalty. Majid Hosseini fouled Mahdi Al-Himaidan in the box and the referee pointed to the spot.
The penalty was subsequently converted by Mohammad Al-Hardan who sent the opposing keeper Alireza Beiranvand the wrong way to put the home team ahead. Iran attempted to rally back to find the equalizer. They missed some crucial chances as Bahrain held on for an important win.
This would be a major disappointment for Iran after their excellent start to the campaign defeating Hong Kong and Cambodia by a combined score of 16-0. The defeat lifts Bahrain to third position behind Iran on goal difference and helps them get a foothold on the campaign.
Iran will be looking to put this defeat behind them as they face table-toppers Iraq next month in Basra next month. The match will be one to watch out for giving the regional rivalry between the two nations.