Super Eagles fail to fly against Iran
•Lack-lustre match ends goaless
Nigeria’s Super Eagles failed to fly last night, labouring to a poor goaless match against Iran – the first drawn tie in what has been a scintillating World Cup – a dismal tie that left both sides still chasing their first victory at a finals, since 1998.
Both teams were whistled and booed off the field by the largely Brazilian crowd of 39,000 after a first half that looked shockingly meagre compared to the goal feasts served up elsewhere.
Iran packed their defence as expected and Nigeria, with Emmanuel Emenike rarely posing a threat as the main target man for the African champions, squandered their chances with long balls to nowhere and passes straight to opponents
While Iran could take some small satisfaction in keeping a clean sheet for the first time since their debut in 1978, the bore at the Baixada arena stood out like a suit salesman on Copacabana beach.
With Lionel Messi’s Argentina, installed as clear Group F favourites, and exciting debutants Bosnia still to come, Nigeria and Iran look destined for an early exit unless they can raise their game considerably.
The Super Eagles had the ball in the back of the net after seven minutes in a goalmouth scramble but Ecuadorean referee Carlos Vera, perhaps harshly, ruled it out for a push on goalkeeper Alireza Haghighi.
Ogenyi Onazi then drilled a shot wide two minutes later.
Iran came closest to breaking the deadlock in the 33rd minute when goalkeeper/captain Vincent Enyeama produced a fine save from Reza Ghoochannejhad’s header in their first corner of the game.
Defender Godfrey Oboabona made an early exit from the fray, replaced by Joseph Yobo on the half hour after earlier receiving treatment on the touchline following a heavy tackle.
Coach Stephen Keshi said after the tie: “When you dominate possession and you can’t score goals; that is football.” He was referring to the 67 per cent possession that the Eagles had to iran’s 33 per cent.
Nigeria had 10 shots at goal to Iran’s 8, plying seven corner kicks while Iran played two.
The draw in Curitiba means that both teams are yet to win a match at the World Cup since 1998, when Nigeria pipped Bulgaria 1-0 and Iran stopped USA 2-1.
It was the 13th match of Brazil 2014 and it was also the first draw and the first match that did not produce any goals.
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