Too little, too late for Dzeko and Bosnia: how Stats Zone saw Bosnia 3-1 Iran
Iran's tactics in their opening two matches was to defend deep and look to frustrate the opposition. You have to say it worked to a degree - they were able to hold Nigeria to a 0-0 draw and almost matched that result when they faced Argentina, only for an injury-time Lionel Messi wonder-goal to seal a 1-0 victory for the South Americans.
They adopted a similar approach in their third and final Group F match. In the early stages they were sitting off their opponents so much they actually completed just 19 passes in the first 20 minutes, enjoying 17.2% of the possession
Iran were unable to hold off Bosnia for too long, with Edin Dzeko finally getting his first World Cup finals goal. The Manchester City striker has endured a difficult tournament, spurning several good chances in Bosnia's first two matches and having a legitimate goal incorrectly ruled out by a linesman for offside. This time, however, he hit the mark. He picked up the ball from Miralem Pjanic's pass before rifling a low shot into the bottom corner from 25 yards.
It may not have helped Bosnia do anything more than win this match, but it will at least have lifted some pressure from Dzeko's shoulders, should his nation qualify for the next World Cup in Russia in four years' time.
While Dzeko's performances in Brazil may not have been entirely impressive, the same can't be said of his team-mate Pjanic. Not only did the Roma playmaker assist Dzeko's goal, but he also chipped in with a strike of his own to double Bosnia's lead just before the hour mark.
Another Bosnian player to catch the eye was Ferencvaros midfielder Muhamed Besic. The 21-year-old made 4 tackles and completed 84 passes - more than any other player on the pitch, and his all-action approach made him the perfect foil for Pjanic in the middle. He was, however, perhaps a little fortunate to avoid being booked far earlier than after his 6th foul. He may have been a little nervous after his 7th, too.
It's not hard to imagine there being great interest in the midfielder's services this summer.
For a brief period it looked like Iran may be able to drag themselves back into the match - Charlton's Reza Ghoochannejhad tapping in Nekounam's cross - only for Vrsajevic to reinstate Bosnia's two-goal advantage moments later.
Facts and figures
- Iran have never won against European opposition at the World Cup (Drawn 1, Lost 5).
- Iran have won only 1 of their 12 games at the World Cup (Drawn 3, Lost 8). Indeed, Iran have gone 7 World Cup matches without a win, losing 5 and drawing 2.
- Edin Dzeko scored with his 12th shot of the tournament.
- 13 of the last 15 goals Iran have conceded at the World Cup have come in the second half.
- Iran have conceded 2 or more goals in 4 of their 6 World Cup matches against European opposition, netting just twice themselves in this run.
- Miralem Pjanic is the first Bosnia and Herzegovina player to find the net and deliver an assist in the same World Cup game.
- Iran have kept just 1 clean sheet in their 12 World Cup matches (vs Nigeria, 2014).
- Reza Ghoochannejhad’s goal ended a run of 277 minutes without a goal at the World Cup for Iran.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina are only the second European team to concede to Iran at the World Cup (Scotland in 1978 – the other team).
- Iran fired in just 6 shots on target at this World Cup, 10 fewer than any other Group F side.
- Iran's goal meant that every team in the 2014 edition of the World Cup has scored for the first time since France 1998.