FIFA World Cup 2006 Group D: Mexico 3 – 1 Iran

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Mexico came into this tournament ranked 4th in the world according to FIFA world rankings. With every World Cup that passes, they are expected to perform a lot better than they do but the only time they have never progressed beyond the 2nd round when playing outside the Mexican borders.

Iran are playing in only their third finals having proven to be exceptionally strong in the Asian game. This had all the hallmarks of being a high scoring match and 25,000 Mexican and 4,000 Iranian fans had turned up to watch the spectacle ahead.

Both sides made an understandably nervous start to this, their opening match of the World Cup but initially it was the Iranians who made the strongest start. By the end of the first half, though, they seem to have run out of ideas and steam despite having equalized well earlier in the half.

Bravo was left with a simple tap-in in the 28th minute which he took well, but Mexico only retained the lead for eight minutes before Golmohamaddi made the most of a goalkeeping error and brought the sides level again with a simple finish.

Ricardo Lavolpe has become infamous for making wholesale changes in personnel, formation and tactic and he did just that during the break. The formation was completely altered and man of the match Marquez seemed to work his way from playing at the back to playing in the middle and finally to playing up front. After having made two substitutions during half time, Mexico were forced to make their third in the 50th minute when Borgetti seemed to indicate an injury to his hamstring and was subsequently replaced by Fonseca who scored ten goals for the Mexicans during qualifying.

Mexico should have had the opportunity to open up a lead in the 57th minute when the brilliant Marquez was clearly felled in the area but no penalty was awarded by the referee.

Apart from the penalty appeal, Mexico had failed to capitalize on their majority of possession until two errors by the Iranians in the 76th minute led to Mexico deservedly taking the lead. First Mirzapour, the Iranian keeper made a howler of a clearance and Rezaie fumbled with the ball at his feet to allow Zinha the opportunity to place a perfect ball into the path of the grateful and willing Bravo to slot away his second of the match.

Zinho was involved again three minutes later, starting a move from his own half and deftly putting away the header that secured Mexico a 3-1 win. Iran have failed to improve on their record of only having won one World Cup game but at least they managed to score in an opening match fro the first time.

Matt Jackson is a football fan who loves to write about FIFA and all the games, especially the World Cup. Matt really knows how to craft a sentence, and that is the reason he is also a copywriter.