Iran booked a place at their third World Cup as Branko Ivankovic’s side defeated Bahrain 1-0 in Tehran’s Azadi Stadium today to guarantee a place in next year’s finals in Germany.
Mohammad Nosrati scored the only goal of the game three minutes into the second half to move Iran into top spot in Group B of Asia’s World Cup qualifying tournament, one point ahead of Japan, who defeated North Korea 2-0 earlier in the day to become the first team to qualify for the finals.
The win was sweet revenge for the Iranians, who missed out on qualifying automatically for the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan following a 3-1 loss to the Bahrainis in Asian qualifying four years ago.
That defeat allowed Saudi Arabia to progress while the Iranians lost out in a play-off to the Republic of Ireland.
Next year’s finals will be Iran’s third after the Persians qualified for the tournament in Argentina in 1978 and in France 20 years later.