Goa: Mohammed Dawood scored the winning spot kick as Iraq claimed a first ever AFC U-16 Championship with a 4-3 penalty shootout victory over Islamic Republic of Iran following a 0-0 draw in Sunday’s final.
Iraq shaded a goalless opening 45 minutes at Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium with top scorer Dawood twice going close.
The forward then struck the crossbar on the hour as Iraq again had the better of the half, but with no goals forthcoming the final was decided from the spot.
Trailing 3-2, Taha Shariati’s penalty was saved by reserve goalkeeper Mundher Najm, but after Muntadher Mohammed had passed up the opportunity to win it for Iraq, Dawood made no mistake in converting the 10th and final spot kick to seal victory for Qahtan Chitheer’s side,
Cheered on by a partisan support, Iraq almost went in front as early as the second minute when Alaa Adnan flicked on Ammar Mohammed’s long ball only for Dawood to fire wide from the penalty spot.
Then on 12 minutes Iran’s Allahyar Sayyad crossed for Younes Delfi, whose effort on the turn from the edge of the area was well tipped wide by goalkeeper Ali Ibadi.
Iran captain Mohammad Sharifi was then narrowly off target with his curling free-kick from 20 yards at the midway stage of the half after Muntadher Abdulsada had fouled Amir Khodamoradi.
Dawood was inches away from giving Iraq the lead minutes later, though, when his shot went the wrong side of the left post after being picked out by Habeeb Mohammed, who had burst forward with purpose from well inside his own half.
As the half wore on the Iraqis enjoyed the better of the possession and Mohammed was next to try his luck when he powered just over from distance 10 minutes before the interval.
Three minutes after the restart Adnan drilled just wide from 18 yards after the Iranian backline had failed to clear a Mohammed cross from the left, but the all-important first goal remained elusive.
Then 60 minutes in Dawood came even closer when he hit the woodwork from 20 yards as Iraq cranked up the pressure.
Abbas Chamanian brought on three-goal forward Alireza Asadabadi as Iran tried to impose themselves as an attacking force.
But as the tie entered the final 10 minutes Iraq continued to push for the winner as captain Mohammed Ridha and forward Ali Kareem were both kept out in quick succession by Iran ‘keeper Ali Gholam Zadeh.
Then in stoppage time, and with no extra time at the AFC youth event, Ibadi was taken off injured as Najm was thrust into the spotlight as the game went to penalties.
Sharifi opened the scoring for Iran and Ahmed Sartip levelled before Vahid Namdari and Abdulsada both netted.
Saeid Ahani then side-footed wide and Ali Ahmed capitalised by scoring before Najm saved from Shariati.
Mohammed missed the chance to win it for Iraq and Amirhossein Esmaeilzadeh piled the pressure on Dawood but the forward powered home the winner as Iraq won the tournament for the first time.