Fri, Jun 27, 2014 - Page 19 News List

WORLD CUP: Bosnia grab first win to end Iran hopes

ALL-OUT ATTACK:Bosnia coach Safet Susic ditched his cautious lineup, restoring Vedad Ibisevic to the side up front alongside Edin Dzeko, and it paid dividends

Reuters, SALVADOR, Brazil

Iran fans pose for a photograph ahead of their side’s FIFA World Cup Group F match against Bosnia and Herzegovina in Salvador, Brazil, on Wednesday.

Photo: AFP

Bosnia and Herzegovina beat Iran 3-1 in their Group F finale on Wednesday to record their first World Cup finals win and deny the West Asians any chance of claiming a shock spot in 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 striker Edin Dzeko and doubled their lead just before the hour through Miralem Pjanic.

Reza Ghoochannejhad pulled a goal back for Iran in the 82nd minute, but any chance of a nervous finish was swiftly put to bed just seconds later when a fine Avdija Vrsajevic strike restored Bosnia’s two-goal cushion.

“The win against Iran is scant consolation, but I congratulate my players for a display of commitment and passion against a team needing a win to keep alive their hopes of progressing,” Bosnia coach Safet Susic told reporters.

“We lacked experience and cool heads at crucial moments in the opening two games, but I cannot complain about effort. That’s just football,” he said, before adding that he still rued a Dzeko goal wrongly disallowed for offside in a 1-0 defeat by Nigeria.

Iran, whose only World Cup victory came in 1998, had required all three points against Bosnia and a win for Argentina over African champions Nigeria to have any shot of grabbing a surprise place in the round-of-16.

While Argentina did their bit in beating the Super Eagles 3-2 in Porto Alegre to top the group on nine points, Iran’s dream never looked like materializing in soggy Salvador, leaving Nigeria to advance on four points, ahead of Bosnia on three and Iran on one.

Susic opted to ditch a cautious 4-5-1 setup in favor of the attack-minded 4-4-2 that brought Bosnia 30 goals in qualifying, restoring Vedad Ibisevic up front alongside Dzeko in one of five changes for the Fonte Nova clash.

The result was a more controlled performance, with Bosnia bossing most of the first half and going ahead when Dzeko came deep to collect a pass, before advancing into space and firing a precise low long-range shot in off the post.

Iran almost got level seconds after the restart when Masoud Shojaei struck the crossbar with a deft chip that saw the ball bounce onto the goal-line and away.

In their previous games Bosnia had been a pale shadow of the side whose attacking play had delighted fans in qualifying, but with a more offensive shape they showed more zest and doubled their advantage before the hour mark.

Illustrating a scrappier second half, Dzeko picked up a loose ball out of the Iran defense that allowed Tino Sven Susic, nephew of the Bosnia coach, to slide in Pjanic inside the penalty area for a tidy finish.

Ghoochannejhad provided a moment of cheer when he ensured Iran would avoid being the only team not to score in Brazil, firing in from close range.

The celebrations were short-lived, though, as Vrsajevic’s marauding run from deep saw him played in to thunder a third home off the far post just a minute later.

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