Three-time Asian Cup champion Iran earned a 4-0 home win over Maldives in the first leg of their World Cup qualifier on Saturday.
Striker Karim Ansarifard opened the scoring in the fourth minute and Iran added three more in the second half.
Iran, which routed the Indian Ocean island nation 17-0 in 1997 to set a World Cup qualifying record, dominated the match but the packed Maldives defense was able to frustrate the host for most of the first half.
Playing before a crowd of about 15,000 in Tehran's 100,000-capacity Azadi Studium, Ansarifard scored again in 64th minute. Captain Ali Karimi headed home a corner kick in the 67th and substitute Saeed Daghighi finished the scoring minutes later.
The return leg will be played in Maldives on Thursday.