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banner Thursday, 25 October, 2001, 11:48 GMT 12:48 UK
Iran take first leg advantage
Iran Ali Karimi (second leg)
Iran's Ali Karimi (second left) attempts a break
Iran 1-0 United Arab Emirates

Iran beat the United Arab Emirates 1-0 in the first leg of their World Cup play-off on Thursday.

The second leg takes place on 31 October, with the winners then facing the Republic of Ireland over two matches for a place in the World Cup Finals.

Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy was at the match and saw the home team dominate the first half, with Ali Karimi repeatedly causing problems for the UAE defence.

Iran's Ali Karimi
Ali Karimi regularly threatened for Iran
Iran finally took the lead in the 45th-minute through a long-range shot by midfielder Karim Bagheri.

The hosts maintained their superiority in the second half, despite the absence of leading players Ali Daei and Mehdi Mahdavikia, but missed a succession of good chances.

On a rainy day the 100,000 capacity Azadi Stadium was only half full, but after the match thousands of fans took part in wild celebrations.

Out in force

Many gathered in Noor Square, about two miles from the stadium, with tyres being set alight and firecrackers being thrown before riot police moved in to disperse the crowd.

According to reports from the Associated Press more than 30 fans were led away by police.

The Iranian security forces were out in force following the riots that erupted after Iran's 3-1 loss to Bahrain in their final Asian group qualifier on Sunday.

That defeat cost Iran an automatic place in next year's tournament in Japan and South Korea.

Meanwhile, members of the Irish media have expressed concern after the Iranian government denied entry visas to all journalists from the UAE who wanted to cover the play-off on Thursday.

Irish team travel agent, Ray Treacy, is already making plans to bring the Irish media with the team to Tehran, if Iran win the Asian play-off.

Around 50 members of the Irish media would be expected to travel to Iran.

BBC Sport's Jon Myers
"It was a frustrating match"
See also:

25 Oct 01 |  Middle East
Arrests in new Iran football clashes
23 Oct 01 |  World Cup 2002
McCarthy dismisses safety fears
22 Oct 01 |  World Cup 2002
Irish will face Iran or UAE
23 Oct 01 |  Middle East
Iran football clashes continue
Other top World Cup 2002 stories:

Links to more World Cup 2002 stories are at the foot of the page.


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