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Iran Stuns Japan with Last-Minute Penalty, Advances to Asian Cup Semifinals

Doha, February 03, 2024, The Europe Today: In a dramatic showdown at the Education City Stadium on Saturday, Iran secured a hard-fought 2-1 victory over four-times champions Japan, knocking them out of the Asian Cup in a thrilling quarter-final clash.

The match, which pitted Asia’s top-two ranked sides against each other, was tied at 1-1 as both teams displayed exceptional skill and determination. However, the defining moment came in the fourth minute of added time when Iran was awarded a crucial penalty. Skipper Alireza Jahanbakhsh stepped up to the spot and delivered a powerful shot into the top corner, sealing a historic win for Iran.

The jubilant Iranian fans in the arena erupted into a loud roar as Jahanbakhsh’s penalty secured their team’s place in the semifinals. The victory not only avenged Iran’s 2019 semi-final loss to Japan but also marked a significant moment in their 19-year winless streak against the Japanese side.

As the final whistle blew, the Iranian bench emptied onto the pitch in celebration. An emotional Jahanbakhsh dropped to the turf in relief, while many players shed tears of joy. The triumph also extended coach Amir Ghalenoei’s unbeaten streak to an impressive 16 matches since he took charge in March.

Iran, now eyeing a record-equalling fourth Asian Cup title, will advance to the semifinals with newfound confidence and momentum. The thrilling quarter-final clash will undoubtedly be remembered as a pivotal moment in the tournament, showcasing the resilience and skill of the Iranian team.