African side Nigeria were playing against the group’s underdogs in the form of Iran, who were predicted to be the whipping boys of their group before the start of the tournament.
This was the second match of the fifth day in the 2014 World Cup, and followed the dominant rout by Germany, who had beaten Portugal with a comprehensive 4-0 victory in Salvador an hour beforehand. If you want a recap on the action, follow the link below:
http://football365mo.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/brazil-wc-2014-germany-vs-portugal-live.html - LIVE Commentary of Germany vs Portugal, on my blog.
On paper, this game was a mis-match because many of Iran’s players were barely known by the public and the African Cup of Nations champions Nigeria were expected to dominate a relatively-new team that have just qualified for the World Cup - which they class as a huge feat for a country of their footballing capabilities.
Here were the team line-ups going into the game, with an unfamiliar Iran side with only Fulham winger Ashkan Dejagah as a notable player in their team -
Iran: Alireza Haghighi, Montazeri, Hosseini, Sadeghi, Pouladi, Teymourian, Nekounam, Heydari, Dejagah, Hajsafi and Ghoochannejhad.
Subs: Ahmadi, Shojaei, Reza Haghighi, Jahanbakhsh, Ansarifard, Hadadifar, Mahini, Alnameh, Rahmani, Beikzadeh, Beitashour and Davari.
Nigeria: Enyeama, Ambrose, Oboabona, Omeruo, Oshaniwa, Onazi, Mikel, Musa, Azeez, Moses and Emenike.
Subs: Ejide, Yobo, Uzoenyi, Gabriel, Egwuekwe, Odemwingie, Odunlami, Babatunde, Nwofor, Uchebo, Ameobi and Agbim.
A 0-0 draw was sufficient for Iran as they defended well enough to secure their first point on the board in the World Cup, despite a lacklustre performance from the so-called Super Green Eagles of Nigeria.
It’s as if they did not turn up, most of their players were poor under pressure and they lacked the desire to win their opener against weak opposition. IF Nigeria had beaten Iran, and possibly beaten Bosnia in their next match then they would have virtually sealed their place in the knock-out rounds. After this draw it has meant it is even harder to get out of the group.
Odemwingie had more of an impact off the substitutes’ bench for the 10 minutes that he played, than the rest of the match which Emenike and Moses were on display for. They were THAT poor.
Iran were safe at the back and had a few half-chances, but Enyeama was either equal to it or their shots were not on target. Apart from the first 10 minutes, Nigeria were dull on the ball and could not break down an Iranian defence which were being pushed forward by the defensive capabilites of Teymourian and Nekounam.
Let's just say that the game was a boring one, failed to live up to any expectations which isn't surprising. Worst game of the World Cup so far, by FAR.
Here were the team line-ups:
Ghana: Kwarasey, Opare, Mensah, Boye, Asamoah, Atsu, Rabui, Muntari, Andre Ayew, Jordan Ayew and Gyan.
Subs: Adams, Inkoom, Essien, Afriyie, Agyemang-Badu, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Adomah, Sumaila, Waris, Wakaso, Afful and Dauda.
USA: Howard, Johnson, Cameron, Besler, Beasley, Bedoya, Jones, Bradley, Beckerman, Dempsey and Altidore.
Subs: Guzan, Yedlin, Gonzalez, Brooks, Johannsson, Diskerud, Davis, Green, Wondolowski, Zusi, Chandler and Rimando.
One of the fastest ever recorded goals at a World Cup was the bright spark in a rather dull first-half of play during this match, courtesy of former Fulham forward Clint Dempsey who weaved his way past three Ghana defenders with ease before slotting his effort into the far post and bouncing into the net. 26 seconds.
|Ghana were shocked as Dempsey made it 1-0 from close range within seconds of kick-off|
|Quick: Dempsey's opener gave USA an early lead to defend, which they did comfortably|
Ghana were pressing and pressing throughout the match for an equaliser, but the USA were firm at the back and got forward when they could, not letting Ghana dominate but it was the Africans who had the better share of ball possession in the match.
However, possession does not always lead to goals, and they needed one badly if they were to get back into the match.
As you can probably expect, Ghana were furious that they let had conceded so easily, and went on the attack. But the USA were not exactly lying down for them.
A solid but frustrating first-half resulted in a 1-0 scoreline at the break, with the African side trailing to a team who were eager to defend their slender lead and perhaps go on the counter attack to score again.
If they were to do so, they would have to do so without Sunderland striker Jozy Altidore, who was sadly stretchered off the pitch mid-way through the first-half after pulling his hamstring (similar to Coentrao earlier on in the day for Portugal, against Germany).
|Blow: Sunderland and USA striker Jozy Altidore was stretchered off after pulling his hamstring|
|Ayew with an outside-of-the-boot strike past Howard into the bottom corner to make it 1-1|
|If only: Ayew celebrates his late equaliser to give Ghana a well-earned point. But then...|
|Vital header: American defender John Brooks with his most important goal to seal a late victory!|
|Brooks does not know how to celebrate after scoring a crucial goal, with minutes left to play|