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Iraqi protests celebrate 2-1 win over Iran in soccer match

Anti-government protesters in Iraq’s capital city are celebrating with fireworks a 2-1 win over Iran in a much-anticipated World Cup qualifying match, hoping it’ll return momentum to their movement.

Crowds watched the game Thursday on a large screen in Baghdad’s main Tahrir Square, the epicenter of demonstrations that have called for overturning Iraq’s sectarian system and Iranian influence.

The protesters say they hope the win over Iran will inspire higher turnout after a security crackdown caused demonstrator numbers to dwindle.

Anti-government protesters celebrate a soccer match win in Tahrir Square in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. Iraqis are celebrating a 2-1 win over Iran in a much-anticipated World Cup qualifying match. (AP PhotoHadi Mizban)

Protesters are calling for a million march to take to Baghdad’s streets on Friday.

FIFA had changed the venue of the match from the southern Iraqi city of Basra to Amman over security concerns. The international soccer federation had recently lifted a three-decade ban on Iraq to host international matches.

Protesters trying to extinguish a burning motorcycle belonging to a protester, that was set on fire by riot police during clashes at Khilani Square in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. (AP PhotoHadi Mizban)

An anti-government protester prepares to throw back a tear gas canister fired by police during clashes at Khilani Square in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. (AP PhotoHadi Mizban)

An injured protester is carried during clashes between Iraqi security forces and anti-Government protesters at Khilani Square in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. (AP PhotoHadi Mizban)