Bosnia end Iran hopes
Bosnia beat Iran 3-1 in their Group F finale yesterday to record their first World Cup win and deny the West Asians any chance of reaching the knockout stage. Already eliminated after two losses, Bosnia, appearing at a major tournament for the first time as an independent nation, went ahead in the 23rd minute through Edin Dzeko.
Bosnia doubled their lead just before the hour through Miralem Pjanic's cool finish before Reza Ghoochannejhad pulled a goal back for Iran in the 82nd minute. Avdija Vrsajevic restored Bosnia's two-goal cushion with a fine strike a minute later.
Iran had required all three points against Bosnia and needed Argentina to beat Nigeria to have any shot of grabbing a surprise place in the last 16. The Argentines beat Nigeria 3-2 in Porto Alegre to top the group on nine points with the Super Eagles going through as runners-up with four. Bosnia finished with three and Iran one.
Bosnia opted to ditch a cautious 4-5-1 setup in favour of the attack-minded 4-4-2 that brought them 30 goals in qualifying, restoring Vedad Ibisevic up front alongside Dzeko. The result was a more controlled performance, the Bosnians bossing most of the first half and taking the lead when Dzeko dropped deep into space to collect a pass before traveling to fire in low off the post from just outside the box.
Iran almost got level seconds after the restart when Masoud Shojaei struck the crossbar with a deft chip. In a scrappier second half, Bosnia scored a second when Dzeko picked up a loose ball that allowed Tino Sven Susic, nephew of Bosnia coach Safet Susic, to slide in Pjanic for a tidy finish.
Despite the roars of support the dogged defensive qualities that have won Iran plaudits in Brazil suddenly looked a little ragged and they struggled to reproduce the swift attacks that had worried twice champions Argentina in their last game.