Goals from Sardar Azmoun and Mehdi Taremi earned Islamic Republic of Iran their place at the finals of the FIFA World Cup in Russia next year as Uzbekistan lost to Carlos Queiroz’s team 0-2 at the Azadi Stadium on Monday.
Azmoun’s goal in the 23rd minute put Team Melli in control before Taremi’s goal two minutes from time secured all three points for the Iranians, who kept an 11th consecutive clean sheet of the campaign.
Iran’s fifth appearance at the FIFA World Cup was secured when Azmoun latched on to Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s through ball before rolling his effort under Aleksandr Lobanov as the Uzbek keeper raced off his line.
Masoud Shojaei could have made the result safe five minutes into the second-half when Iran were awarded a penalty, but the midfielder curled his spot-kick over the bar.
Taremi claimed the decisive second in the 88th minute when he stepped inside the Uzbekistan defence before curling his shot into the bottom corner as Iran booked their ticket for a fifth World Cup.
Uzbekistan now can try for the second automatic berth with mathematical chances still there, however with South Korea facing unmotivated Qatar and Iran the second automatic berth seems now virtually out of sight.
Uzbekistan is very much in contest for third place which would earn them a playoff with Asian Qualifying round Group B third placed team, and a further intercontinental playoff with the likes of Panama or Honduras, provided that the team overcomes continental rival.