Qatar 0 Iran 1: Azmoun stunner sends Queiroz's men through
Sardar Azmoun demonstrated why he is reportedly attracting the interest of top Premier League clubs with a sublime individual goal as Iran beat Qatar 1-0 in Sydney to reach the Asian Cup quarter-finals and knock the Gulf champions out.
Rubin Kazan striker Azmoun has been linked with Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool and it was easy to see why on the evidence of his stunning second-half strike at the ANZ Stadium on Thursday
Azmoun produced a fine turn and finish to ensure Carlos Queiroz's side will progress from Group C with the United Arab Emirates, both nations having won their first two games.
Iran beat Bahrain 2-0 in their opening game of the tournament last weekend and did just enough to see off Qatar, who produced a much-improved showing following their 4-1 hammering at the hands of the UAE but crash out with a game remaining.
Iran and UAE, 2-1 winners over Bahrain on Thursday, lock horns in Brisbane on Monday to determine who will finish top of the group.
Both sides looked short of ideas going forward in a frantic start, but it was Iran - backed by a impressive contingent of vociferous supporters - who looked more dangerous as the first half progressed.
Midfielder Karim Boudiaf came to Qatar's rescue with a crucial intervention when Masoud Shojaei looked poised to get on the end of Ashkan Dejagah's cross from the right 23 minutes in.
Iran were happy to let Qatar see plenty of the ball, before trying to pick them off on the break, although an initial lack of quality in the final third made it hard to see where the opening goal would come from.
Morteza Pouraliganji had a header cleared off the line by Ahmed El Sayed and Dejagah let fly with a right-footed strike that flashed wide of the far post as Iran ended the half on the front foot.
Queiroz's side then moved in front seven minutes into the second period, and it was a moment of quality that was worth the wait as Azmoun sent the Iran fans into raptures with a sublime goal.
The 20-year-old took a pass from the lively Dejagah with his back to goal, spun Almahdi Ali with a sharp turn and kept his composure to apply a right-footed finish.
Azmoun's night was cut short 10 minutes later when he was carried off with an injury, which did not appear to be serious, soon after Qatar had lost Ismaeel Mohammad to injury.
Mohammed Muntari had half a chance to draw Qatar level, but Ali Reza Haghighi comfortably saved the striker's header.
Qatar pushed forward in search of an equaliser, but were unable to fashion one and crash out in disappointing fashion as Iran march on.