The Iran national under-23 football team, also known as Iran U-23 or Iran Olympic Team, has trounced North Korea to notch up its first victory at the preliminary round of the 2018 Asian Games.
On Friday, the Iranian squad defeated the East Asian side 3-0, and was rewarded with all three points of the Group F match at the Wibawa Mukti Stadium in the Indonesian town of Cikarang.
Young Iranian footballers, who shared the spoils in a goalless draw with Saudi opponents on Wednesday, started brightly against their North Korean counterparts.
Iranian midfielder Mohammad Khodabandehlou and striker Amir Roustaei got two marvelous opportunities within the first 18 minutes, but their chances were saved by North Korean goalkeeper Kang Ju-Hyok.
North Koreans then responded and went close to scoring the opener in the 19th minute. Iranian goalkeeper Mehdi Amini pulled off a save and parried Ri Un-Chol’s strike though.
Finally, Roustaei put Iran in front in the 27th minute when he buried the ball at the back of the net with a powerful strike.
The North Korea national under-23 football team applied pressure afterwards in search of an equalizer, but couldn’t find the target and trailed by a goal at halftime.
Iranians kept the momentum after the break, looking to extend their advantage.
North Korea suffered a blow in the 52nd minute when Song Kum-Song was the recipient of a red card, and the East Asians went down to 10 men.
Iran Olympic Team managed to double its lead through Mehdi Ghaedi’s strike in the 68th minute.
Even though North Koreans made their best efforts to narrow the goal deficit, Iran made it 3-0 after Aref Aghasi converted a penalty in the added time.
The Iran national under-23 football team is slated to play against Myanmar on Monday.
Football at the 2018 Asian Games is held from August 14 to September 1.
Iran is pitted against Myanmar, North Korea and Saudi Arabia in Group F.
Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos and Palestine are drawn in Group A. Bangladesh, Qatar, Thailand and Uzbekistan form Group B.
Group C consists of China, Syria, Timor-Leste and the United Arab Emirates. Japan, Nepal, Pakistan and Vietnam are in Group D.
Bahrain, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia and South Korea shape Group E.