CURITIBA: Nigeria and Iran became the first sides to draw at the 2014 World Cup as they played out a turgid 0-0 draw in Curitiba yesterday.
In stark contrast to the attacking nature of the tournament so far, neither side showed much creativity and the final whistle was met by a cacophony of boos from the mainly Brazilian crowd.
After a bright start from Nigeria, it was Iran who forced the only meaningful save of the afternoon from Vincent Enyeama as the Lille goalkeeper parried Reza Ghoochannejad’s headed effort.
A point apiece leaves both sides tied for second place in Group F with Argentina leading the way thanks to their 2-1 win over Bosnia and Hercegovina on Sunday.
Nigeria started by far the better of the two sides and had an effort on goal inside three minutes as Victor Moses’ low shot was comfortably held by Alireza Haghighi.
The African champions had the ball in the net moments later, but Ahmed Musa was adjudged to have fouled Haghighi as they challenged for a high ball before Ogenyi Onazi slotted inches wide with Nigeria’s best opening of the half.
The intensity from Nigeria then dropped as they were forced into a change midway through the half when former Everton defender Joseph Yobo replaced the injured Godfrey Oboabona.
Iran’s only effort on goal in the opening 45 minutes produced the best stop of the game as Enyeama had to leap to his right to parry Charlton Athletic striker Reza’s header to safety from a fine Ashkan Dejagah corner.
With no sign of a breakthrough coming early in the second-half, Nigeria boss Stephan Keshi introduced Newcastle United’s Shola Ameobi for the ineffectual Moses.
However, Iran then went onto have their best spell in the game with Adranik Timotian firing wildly over when well-placed inside the area.
Ameobi came close to breaking the deadlock, but his flicked header sailed wide and he was adjudged to have fouled his marker in the process.
Nigeria’s abundance of forward players was leaving them more susceptible to the Iranian counter-attack, however, and Dejagah should have done better when he was picked out at the far post but failed to make a proper connection with his header.
The draw leaves Iran still in search of their first ever World Cup victory, whilst Nigeria’s winless streak in the competition extends to nine games stretching back to 1998.AFP