Vietnam, Iran U-19 women football teams deadlocked

April 27, 2019

TEHRAN - An equalizer from captain Zahra Khodabakhshi gave Iran a share of the spoils, and a fighting chance of reaching the finals after a 1-1 draw with Vietnam on the opening day of Group B action in Round 2 of the AFC U-19 Women's Championship Thailand 2019 Qualifiers.

Khodabakhshi's 54th-minute strike was just reward for an Iranian side who surged home in the second half, after Ngan Thi Van Su had given Vietnam the early advantage.

Two years after Vietnam's senior women's national team had beaten Iran 6-1 on the same ground, Team Melli's new generation showed their improvement, coming close to claiming all three points on a number of occasions in the dying stages.

Earlier, there was little indication of the struggle that lay ahead for Vietnam, with Van Su opening the scoring in the 14th minute to punish Iranian goalkeeper Mahdiyeh Mahmoudinia, who had spilled a teasing cross from Tran Thi Thu Xuan.

The hosts took their lead to half-time, but Team Melli - coached by Katayoun Khosrowyar, who had been among Iranian staff during the 6-1 defeat of 2017 - produced an exemplary second half to claim a point, the-afc.com reported.

The impressive Khodabakhshi stole in behind the Vietnamese defense to beat Tran Thi Ngoc Anh and squeeze home the equaliser just before the hour mark, then saw her towering header go agonisingly wide of the goal with the goalkeeper stranded in the 78th minute.

Vietnam's task become more difficult when Tran Thi Hai Linh was given her marching orders for a second bookable offence with 10 minutes remaining, and Iran spurned a glorious late chance when substitute Negin Zandi rounded Ngoc Anh, only for a desperate clearance from Pham Thi Lan Anh to save the hosts from opening night defeat.

Earlier on the day, South Korea humiliated Lebanon 9-0 in the group.

Iran will play South Korea on Sunday.  

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