Iran defeat Hong Kong

Tehran Times - Iran survived a stiff test from Hong Kong, China to walk away with a 4-2 win in their Preliminary Joint Qualification – Round 2 for the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027 Group E tie on Thursday.

Mehdi Taremi led by example with a hat-trick as Iran stayed unbeaten, moving to 13 points with a match against Uzbekistan to come on Tuesday that will decide the group winners.

Taremi opened the scoring for Team Melli in the 13th minute. 20-year-old debutant Ma Hei Wai equalized the match but Taremi was on target once again from the spot in the 34th minute. Taremi completed his hat trick in the 56th minute. Pinto pulled a goal back in the hour mark but Sardar Azmoun made it 4-2 five minutes later.

Iran, meanwhile, top the group with four wins and a draw.

The top two teams from the group move on to the third round of World Cup qualifiers in Asia while the bottom two head to the third round of Asian Cup qualifiers.