Mehdi Taremi scored a first-half brace as Iran made a commanding start to their Asian Cup campaign with a 5-0 win over Yemen.
Carlos Quieroz’s side are the highest-ranked AFC side in the FIFA rankings and they made that status tell as Al-Gharafa striker Taremi completed his double inside 25 minutes, either side of an own goal from erratic Yemen goalkeeper Saoud Al-Sowadi.
Iran’s star man Sardar Azmoun got in on the act after half-time and substitute Saman Ghoddos drilled in a speculative long-ranger after 78 minutes as Team Melli established an early grip on proceedings in Group D.
Ahmed Al-Sarori lashed over a seventh minute chance for Yemen, who were initially indebted to Al-Sowadi for getting down brilliantly to his left to deny Taremi.
But the goalkeeper then undid his good work by spilling Azmoun’s shot, with Taremi the beneficiary.
Al-Sowadi’s evening got little better as Ashkan Dejagah’s 23rd-minute free-kick hit the post and went in off his back, while he had no chance when Taremi headed gleefully home from Ramin Rezaeian’s searching cross.
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Iran should have finished the half with 10 men but Majid Hosseini’s horrible two-footed lunge on Emad Mansoor Tawfik went remarkably unpunished.
Al-Sowadi’s mixed outing continued as he twice denied Azmoun early in the second half – the initial save a superb reaction stop from another teasing Rezaeian delivery.
Predictably, Yemen’s keeper was involved when the Rubin Kazan forward finally got on the scoresheet as he botched a routine punch.
Azmoun side-footed against the crossbar before Amiens midfielder Ghoddos completed the scoring and Mahdi Torabi rattled Al-Sowadi’s furniture in stoppage time.
Vietnam are up next for Iran on Saturday, while Yemen will seek to bounce back against Iraq.