0853 GMT February 25, 2018
Iran piled on the pressure from the beginning, keeping Uzbekistan to its half, and it paid off early with Mahdi Javid finding the back of the net with his strike to the bottom left corner at the third minute, the-afc.com reported.
A minute later, Uzbekistan crossed to the attacking third without its full force and was punished when Ahmad Esmaeilpour regained possession and surged down the flank before passing it off to skipper Ali-Asghar Hassanzadeh for a fine finish to double Iran’s lead.
The 11-time champion showed its prowess once again with its quick ability to move down the pitch, and at the 11th minute, Hassanzadeh turned provider as his blind pass into the box found Hossein Tayebi for a close range strike.
Hassanzadeh and Javid formed Iran’s dynamic duo, as the captain earned two more assists to his name in the 16th minute with Javid completing his hat-trick with back-to-back goals in similar fashion.
In the second half, Uzbekistan returned with aggression and more synergized in its movements and passes, which limited Iran’s opportunities on target.
Mohammad Nazemasharieh’s side showed that it is formidable in set pieces as well, and Hassanzadeh earned his brace in such instances with a simple tap in to make it 6-0 in the 31st minute, before Tayebi also scoring his second of the match four minutes later.
Anaskhon Rakhmatov scored a consolation goal in the last 20 seconds of the game, courtesy of Farkod Adbdumavlyanov’s pass, but it was too little too late as Iran sealed a 13th final appearance.
“Our main target was the final, and just after this game, our work has now begun. Because that it what everyone in Asia is expecting us to reach the final. We are third in the world, and we have to live up to that expectation," Nazemasharieh said after the game.
Iran will meet Japan in the final on Sunday, while Uzbekistan will play Iraq in the third place playoff.