Bosnia-Herzegovina ends World Cup run with hammering win over Iran
JUN 25, 2014 1:45p ET
Iran had only a long-shot chance at advancing to the Round of 16 when they kicked off after a 3-1 loss to Bosnia and Herzegovina on Wednesday afternoon in Salvador.
Edin Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic made certain that there was no miracle for Team Melli as they scored the goals in the first hour which gave the Bosnians control of the match en route to their first win of the World Cup. Reza Ghoochannejad got Iran's first goal of the tournament with nine minutes to play, but Avdija Vrsajevic replied immediately and Bosnia and Herzegovina ran out winners.
They no doubt will go home wondering what might have been. An offside decision that didn't go Bosnia's way, denying them a goal in the eventual 1-0 loss to Nigeria meant that they finished third in Group F while Nigeria held on to the second spot despite a loss to Argentina. Iran wound up fourth.
Iran, needing a win to have any chance to advance, was definitely more adventurous, pushing more men into the attack than in their previous matches. However the midfield passing was inadequate and only Ashkan Dejagah seemed confident enough on the ball to create Bosnia problems. The Bosnians did a fine job of quieting Ghoochannejad for most of the match, so Dejagah often had no support when he did make strong runs to test the Bosnians' defense.
Dzeko, looking the class player that he has proven to be at Manchester City, had the first two looks for the Bosnians inside the first 10 minutes, but Alireza Haghighi saved both with relative ease. It was 15 minutes into matters before Iran mounted a semblance of an attack, but that foundered when Amirhossein Sadeghi's cross from the right byeline found no takers.
Dzeko then broke with the deadlock in the 23rd minute with a consummate run through the center of the Iranian midfield before delivering a shot from 24 yards that beat Haghighi to his left-hand post, nestling low into the corner of the net. It was one of the few times that Dzeko had space in front of him and proved so costly to Carlos Queiroz' defensive-minded side.
Iran nearly got level in the next minute when they made their only real chance of the half, but Masoud Shojaei's shot from the top of the box hit the crossbar, came down and stayed out -- as FIFA's goal line technology showed. Iran started the second half with an intent to attack but the openings were never really there. They closest they came to creating a chance came in the 55th minute when Toni Sunjic and Begovic got their signals crossed and Sunjic wound up hoisting the ball straight up and over his goal.
Pjanic then diminished Iranian hopes in the 59th minute when he was clear on the left to accept a pass from Dezko before sliding the ball past Haghighi. The chance came after the Iranians lost possession 35 yards from goal to allow Dzeko to advance once more before delivering for the AS Roma star. The Iranians never quit attempting to make something positive happen, but the lack of real quality in midfield prevented them from making enough of the possession they did manage. When Ghoochannejad got on the end of a cross it did give Iran a glimmer of hope in the 81st minute, but that was an illusion.
Bosnia went the other way and found Avdija Vrsajevic to make it 3-1 with a precise finish to the far post off the right side attack.