Bosnia and Herzegovina vs Iran match report World Cup 2014: Edin Dzeko, Miralem Pjanic and Avdija Vrsajevic on target as Iran miss their chance

Bosnia and Herzegovina 3 Iran 1

Iran’s finest hour at a World Cup came back at France 98 when they beat the “great Satan” of the United States in a group match in Lyon. With Nigeria losing to Argentina in the other Group G game, they could have surpassed that exploit in rainy Salvador yesterday but simply ran out of steam despite the door to the last 16 beckoning them.

Carlos Queiroz may have got two impressively organised performances out of his players against Nigeria and Argentina, but they fell short against a Bosnia side playing only for pride and the consequence was a first World Cup finals victory for the Balkan newcomers, who prevailed through goals from Edin Dzeko, Miralem Pjanic and Avdija Vrsajevic.

Queiroz said afterwards that the Argentina match – where they held the South Americans until injury time – had taken its toll on a team based mostly in Asian football. “With our exhausted mental and physical state, you could see there comes a moment they have nothing left inside,” said the former Manchester United assistant manager. Queiroz himself has nothing left to offer Iran, confirming afterwards that he would be leaving his position having “not received any single concrete proposal to keep going and renew my contract”.


For Bosnia, by contrast, this was a belated flourish on the world stage. Manchester City striker Dzeko finally came to life after coach Safet Susic restored Vedad Ibisevic to the starting line-up alongside him. Dzeko had already forced a fingertip save from Alireza Haghighi when he drove Bosnia in front with a precise 25-yard strike in off the post. It was his first World Cup goal but he barely bothered  to celebrate.

Iran nearly had an instant equaliser when Masoud Shojaei’s deflected shot looped on to the crossbar but they struggled to trouble the Bosnia defence.

The best players in the Iranian league earn no more than £300,000 a year. Their fitness levels do not compare with European football either and it was a tired and wayward pass out of defence by Amir-Hossein Sadeghi that led to Bosnia’s second goal, tucked away by Roma midfielder Pjanic.

With eight minutes left Iran finally had a goal to celebrate at this World Cup when Charlton forward Reza Ghoochannejhad tapped in, but even then Bosnia broke for full-back Vrsajevic to hit their third. Susic, like Queiroz, will be looking for a new job soon and admitted: “We think we could have done more.”