“We were not intelligent enough to defend our 1-0 lead but I’m nonetheless proud of my players,” he said. “Today’s match was a little bit of bad football but in the end I think a draw was a fair result. People were saying we would let in a lot of goals but that didn’t happen.”
Iran’s coach Branko Ivankovic felt they deserved more. “We dominated the 90 minutes and perhaps deserved a victory,” said the Croat. “The conditions were very hard but the players put their heart and soul into the match.”
Goncalves again opted to start with the captain Fabrice Akwa as a lone striker supported by a solid five-man midfield. Akwa failed to make much impression on the Iranian defence and was replaced by Flavio in the 51st minute after picking up a groin injury. Within 10 minutes Flavio had scored Angola’s first goal in a World Cup finals, heading powerfully home from a perfect right-wing cross by ZÃ© Kalanga.
Iran had dominated the first half and should have taken the lead in the 24th minute. Ali Daei rose unmarked at the back post but the 37-year-old sent his header over. Shortly the Angola midfielder Mendonca blocked a powerful header from Vahid Hashemian on the line.
Iran’s attacking potency was dulled considerably when Hashemian was forced off just before the break with what appeared to be an injury to his lower back. They finally broke through when Bakhtiarizadeh was left unmarked from a corner and guided his header inside the far post.