The hosts were dumped out of the competition after a spirited showing…

Continental heavyweights Iran trounced India 0-3 in the AFC U-16 Championship matched player at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Fotorda, Goa earlier today.

After earning a morale-boosting late draw against Saudi Arabia in their last game the Indians made two changes with Aman Chetri and Aniket Jadhav dropping to the bench, while Lalengmawia and Khumanthem Meetei came into the team. Iran who came into the game sitting on top of the group used it to try a few permutations ahead of the knockout stages.

With fatigue partly costing them in their last two matches the hosts started in a much more steady fashion. However, it was Iran who started the better side getting in a couple of good crosses into the box, which were well dealt with by the Indian back four. As both teams jostled for control it took a long time for the first clear chance of the game. In the 15th minute a long ball down the left wing was well controlled by Komal Thatal who got to the byline and cut in but his near post shot was straight at the keeper. On 23 minutes Iran duly took the lead. India lost the ball in midfield allowing Mohammad Ghaderi and Allahyar Sayyad to exchange passes before the former neatly smashed the ball into the net. Coming into the game the visitors needed only a point while it was the Junior Tigers who needed to win and so the game once again settled into a predictable pattern with the hosts being asked to make all the running. In the 34 minute Iran should have doubled their advantage. A corner was cleared but when the second ball was swung in Amir Khodamoradi found himself unmarked at the back post. However, his shot was well parried by Dheeraj in the Indian goal and a subsequent strike ratted off the post.

The Iranians denied India any space on the wings to hurt them with their trademark fast counter-attacks and with Chetri as well as Jadhav not featuring the hosts struggled to create any chances of note.

Jadhav was introduced after the break to provide fresh impetus to the attack. On 52 minutes goalscorer Ghaderi went on a mazy run down the left getting past Boris Thangjam and Khumanthm Meetei before tumbling down in the box, but the referee said no penalty. Four minutes later, Thangjam once again fouled Ghaderi and was sent off after a second yellow. A shot from the resulting free-kick was parried by Dheeraj. Close to the hour mark Ghaderi produced another shot from the left which was well saved by the Indian keeper to keep his side in the game. In the very next minute substitute Jadhav went down in the box at the other end, but the referee once again kept his hands by his side. In the 65 minute Khodamoradi once again produced an effort from distance which was punched by the Indian shot-stopper.

Ten minutes later Sayyad went down the right and produced a cross which almost went into the net. In the 80th minute with the Indians pushing for a goal, Iran broke on the counter and Ghaderi dribbled past two defenders before brought down by Narendra who gave away a penalty. Skipper Mohammad Sharifi calmly converted sending the keeper the wrong way and putting the game to bed. In the 84 minute midfield strongman Sayyad found Saeid Ahani but his shot on the run was easily saved by Dheeraj. Two minutes later India were awarded a free-kick, but Sanjeev Stalin’s shot from 25 yards sailed over the crossbar. In the final minute of the 90 Jadhav came in with a clumsy challenge on the impressive Sayyad leading to another spot-kick which was easily converted skipper Sharifi to make it 0-3

India had put up a spirited showing in their previous two games against the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Ababa. However, having to play over half an hour with 10 men they were thoroughly outclassed by one of the tournament’s favourites and thus exit the group with just one point from three games.

Report by Khel Now-Content Editor Mrunal Nakashe. A sports buff, he’s also a foreign policy enthusiast and keen North Korea watcher. Mrunal loves gaming, reading, traveling and is a self-confessed Football Manager addict. You can follow him on Twitter.