ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran and Iraq advanced to the knockout stages of the Asian Cup on Saturday with a game to spare.
Three-time champion Iran beat Vietnam 2-0 and secured its spot in the round of 16 when 2015 Asian Cup semifinalist Iraq beat Yemen 3-0 in another Group D game.
With two wins each, Iran and Iraq meet in Dubai on Wednesday to decide top spot.
The top two teams in each group and the four best third-placed teams advance to the round of 16.
It was a record ninth successive victory for Iran in Asian Cup group stage matches. Asia’s top-ranked team has dominated possession and looked comfortable in its opening two games, scoring seven goals and still to concede.
Iran’s Sardar Azmoun took care of the goals against Vietnam, scoring in each half.
Saman Ghoddos crossed for the forward to put Iran ahead with a close-range header in the 38th minute. Azmoun added his second in the 69th with a left-footed strike from the middle of the box for his third goal at the tournament.
Vietnam registered its second straight defeat following a narrow 3-2 loss to Iraq.
Iran is led by former Real Madrid and Portugal coach, Carlos Queiroz, who is chasing a major title with Iran after eight years in charge.
In Sharjah, Mohanad Ali Kadhim and Bashar Resan Bonyan scored with low shots from outside of the area early in the first half to give Iraq a comfortable advantage and substitute Alaa Abbas sealed it in second-half injury time.
Yemen and Vietnam are both pointless and will fight for third place in Al Ain on Wednesday.
Saudi Arabia plays Lebanon in Group E later Saturday.
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