Player of the Weekend: 21st January
Whilst club football is rumbling on, conjuring up a couple of seven-goal thrillers in the Premier League and an eight-goal helping in the Eredivisie, international football is providing some excitement, too.
The Asian Cup has been displaying the best that Asian football can offer, with the top nations competing for the ultimate prize. With a strong Asia representation at the World Cup last summer, there are a few familiar faces, too – like Alireza Beiranvand.
The goalkeeper denied Cristiano Ronaldo his fifth goal at the World Cup, by saving a penalty from the legend himself. It stopped Portugal from clinching top spot in the group and, although it wasn’t enough to see his native Iran through to the last 16, it helped them to a famous 1-1 draw that underlined the footballing potential of the nation.
Now at the Asian Cup, Iran is in full swing and Beiranvand is too – his viral long throws have seen him become something of a cult hero already.
But this weekend, he was back to his penalty stopping ways.
Three minutes into the last sixteen clash against Oman, Iran was faced with a feeling of impending doom. Never to reach the knockouts of a World Cup, this rare taste of knockout football looked like it might be short-lived. But once again, Alireza Beiranvand stepped up and battered away the penalty. With it, went any nerves and doubt.
Alireza Jahanbakhsh, the former AZ winger, would put Iran ahead not long later and from that moment, the side would cruise into the last eight. Another iconic moment in the career of Alireza Beiranvand, a hero in Iran and our Player of the Weekend.