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Tashkent: Mohammad Keshavarz and Ghodrat Bahadori scored in the first half as Iran secured an 11th AFC Futsal Championship title after edging out hosts Uzbekistan 2-1 in Sunday’s final.

Uzbekistan opened the scoring after five minutes at Uzbekistan Stadium through Dilshod Irsaliev only for Bahadori’s thunderous strike to level the tie in the ninth minute before captain Keshavarz gave Iran the lead six minutes before half-time.

Uzbekistan pushed for the equaliser after the restart, but the hosts struggled to create any clear-cut chances as Iran held out to claim their first continental title since defeating the same opponents 8-3 in the 2010 final. 

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Iran were on the front foot from the kick-off and Hossein Tayebi forced Uzbekistan goalkeeper Rustam Umarov into a save in the second minute before opposite number Sepehr Mohammadi tipped over from Irsaliev at the other end after five minutes.

And Uzbekistan took the lead shortly after when Farhad Tavakoli’s wayward pass across the face of his own goal was tapped home by the grateful Irsaliev for his first goal of the campaign.  

But four minutes later Iran equalised when Bahadori’s left-footed rocket from distance flew into Umarov’s top right corner before the Uzbekistan goalkeeper pulled of a flying save to deny Tayebi midway through the first half.

Iran then went in front on 14 minutes when Keshavarz was at the back post to finish Mohammadreza Sangsefidi’s low cross from the left.

Uzbekistan started the second half strongly and Dilshod Rakhmatov was just off target with his powerful drive before Irsaliev volleyed over from a long throw up field from substitute goalkeeper Klim Tyugayev.

But Iran could have doubled their advantage in the 28th minute after Ali Hassanzadeh played in Mahdi Javid only for Tyugayev save Uzbekistan.

With three minutes remaining Uzbekistan coach Jose Maria Pazos went all out and brought Konstantin Sviridov on as the power-play player as Uzbekistan pushed for the equaliser.

And with the hosts keeping hold of possession well in the opposition half, Rahkmatov was eventually presented with a goalscoring opportunity but Mohammadi saved well with his legs.

As the clock ticked down, Mohammadi was again called into action to save from Javlon Anorov before Hamid Ahmadi’s looping effort from well inside his own half could have finished the game off with less than a minute remaining but the ball went just over.

Photo: AFC

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