Muntadher Mohammed scored in each half to help Iraq come from behind and beat Korea Republic 2-1 in their opening match of Group C AFC U-16 Championship played at Nehru Stadium in Margao, Goa on Friday.
Both teams played an attacking game from the start and matched each other. Korea Republic created a couple of early chances but could not find the target.
Iraq also came with up with a couple of counter moves with Mohammed Dawood header going over by inches and Dhurgham Mohammed’s attempt was saved by Korean keeper Pak Jimin.
Korea, who had an edge over their rival in the first half, later conceded two crucial penalties and lost the match. They took the lead in the 43rd minute. Defender Kim Taehwan collected a long ball and raced down the right flank before sending a deep cross into the box for Jeong Chanyoung whose right footer landed at the back of the net.
Iraq retaliated and earned a penalty after defender Kim Minhyeok handled the ball inside the box off a cross from Muntadher Mohammed from the left. Muntadher, who himself took the penalty, made no mistake in finding the net to restore parity in the stoppage time of the first half.
Changing over, Iraq showed urgency in their attack as they built moves from the flank and again earned a penalty after Korean defender Kim Taehwan was pulled up for a dangerous tackle on Muntadher inside the box. Muntadher, who has been the livewire upfront, converted it with a low drive to give Iraq the lead in the 50th minute.
Two-time winner Korea, desperate to find the equaliser, had a couple of close chances but first substitute Kong Evi Chang shot straight into the hands of rival keeper and latter Seonghoeen headed over Park Chanbin’s cross.
In Bambolim, Adilet Knyberkov’s 75th minute penalty helped debutants Kyrgyzstan pull off a surprise win over Australia in the Group B opener at GMC Bambolim Stadium. Australia tried desperately to find the equaliser but the Central Asians held on to secure their first ever victory in the AFC U-16 Championship.