ABU DHABI: Title-chasing Iran survived a first-minute penalty in a chaotic start to eventually dispatch Oman 2-0 and reach the Asian Cup quarter-finals on Sunday.
Beanpole goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand saved from the spot before goals from Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Ashkan Dejagah in Abu Dhabi sent Iran through to face China.
Vietnam were the first to book their place in the last eight after they bundled out Jordan on penalties in Dubai before the Chinese joined them by squeaking past Thailand 2-1.
Beiranvand saved a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty at last year’s World Cup and plunged to his right to brilliantly deny Oman captain Ahmed Al-Mahaijri, preventing Oman taking a shock lead moments into the game.
Iran, who are looking to end a 43-year-old Asian Cup title drought, broke through after 32 minutes when Brighton forward Jahanbakhsh latched onto a hopeful long ball to poke the ball past Oman goalkeeper Faiyz Al-Rusheidi.
“Team Melli” captain Dejagah lashed home a penalty four minutes before the break after Mehdi Taremi had been brought down.
Beiranvand produced an acrobatic save to keep out Muhsen Al-Ghassani’s long-range strike just before the half-time whistle.
Sardar Azmoun — dubbed the “Iranian Messi” — twice fluffed his lines after the interval when it looked easier to score.
Taremi subsequently squandered two gilt-edged chances, but Iran were never seriously troubled by an error-prone Oman side.
Oman coach Pim Verbeek paid tribute to his players after the Gulf champions reached the Asian Cup knockout stage for the first time.
China flirted with disaster before launching a second-half fight back to beat Thailand.
The Thais profited from a lethargic start by Marcello Lippi’s Chinese side, Supachai Jaided firing them ahead after 31 minutes in Al-Ain.
But China, runners-up in 1984 and 2004, hit back through substitute Xiao Zhi and Gao Lin’s thumping penalty 20 minutes fromtime to set up a meeting with Iran.