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China vows to beat Iran at home in World Cup qualifier

China vows to beat Iran at home in World Cup qualifier

Iran's national football team has played out a goalless draw against China in their 2018 World Cup qualifying match.

China has only ever reached one World Cup, in 2002, but qualifying for Russian Federation 2018 would be a significant statement for a country which aims to become a global football power.

After a forgettable first half, a more cohesive China emerged for the second, as they competed more ably with Iran, while Yuning saw an early shot deflected just over the target.

China are trying to reach their second World Cup finals in history in the tough Group A which also brackets 2022 hosts Qatar, Uzbekistan, South Korea and Syria.

Iran goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand smothered at the feet of Wu Lei and Chinese substitute 'keeper Gu Chao saved sharply in the final minute to ensure China's first point of Group A.

South Korea made a fine start to the game and could have gone a goal up after just 12 minutes when Koo Ja-cheol popped up in a unsafe position after a clever throughball, only for Syria goalkeeper Ibrahim Alma to deny the midfielder with a fine save. "We have eight rounds to go, and I hope we see this scenario positively", said China coach Gao Hongbo. In contrast to the victory against Qatar last week, fresh forces were introduced by Iran coach Carlos mainly due to Dejagah's injury in the last qualifier and tactical thoughts with regard to China's speedy counterattacks. "I was anxious a little bit about the mental condition of the team, but we just really threw ourselves into this game with the desire to win".

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Their cause was also helped by South Korea's travails in Malaysia, Syria's temporary "home" base, as they missed out on what had seemed like a certain three points.

With Son Heung-min returning to England to fight for his place at Tottenham Hotspur, Korea had little sharpness about them up front and had few clear-cut chances.

In Bangkok, Japan bounced back from its opening loss at home to the United Arab Emirates by beating Thailand 2-1.

Genki Haraguchi headed the dominant visitors into a first-half lead, and striker Takuma Asano sealed the win in the second half. "After our first match we were under so much pressure and we had to get out from under that".

In a Group B match, Saudi Arabia rallied to beat Iraq 2-1 on road.

In another match of Group A, Syria forced a scoreless draw against South Korea in Malaysia.

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