ALAN VACCARO / AIPS in DUBAI: Group E at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 has yet to see a victory after Iran and Argentina drew a vibrant, entertaining game 1-1.
Iran could not have dreamed of a better start against a South American side who had been favourites to overwhelm them: In the first minute Mostafa Hashemi scored a superb goal both to put Iran ahead and to celebrate his birthday.
It continued all uphill for the South Americans who struggled to penetrate the Iran defence. Finally their support work for a strike duo of Sebastian Driussi and Marcos began to work for them.
Iran were content with hanging on to their advantage and concede the initiative to Argentina. Driussi equalised in the 14th minute after some neat play, forcing the Iranians to abandon their attacking attitude which led to a superb game.
Unlike Argentina, Iran tried many shots from outside the area. First they hit the post and were then foiled by good saves from Argentina’s goalkeeper Augusto Batalla.
Iran deserved to be ahead at the break though Argentina could could have scored when a clear chance fell to Luis Leszczuk.
The game retained its intensity in the second half though Argentina were the more determined to secure the three points. Driussi missed another big chance and Cristian Pavon crashed a header onto the bar. Argentinian defender Lucio Compagnucci was sent off 10 minutes from time but that changed nothing because Iran seemed content with the draw.
Thus, both teams failed to take advantage of the tie between Canada and Austria to climb to the top of group and all four teams are on one point after the first round.
Both coaches were satisfied with their teams’ performance.
Iran’s Ali Doustimehr said: “I am very happy. We got a drawn against one of the best teams in the world. We have to improve if we want to be in the next round. But in football you always have to improve.”
Humberto Grondona, the Argentina coach: “I would like to congratulate Iran. It was not easy. The way they played and the way we played make me very happy. I am very confident.”
* AIPS, the international sports journalists association, is running a Young Reporters course in UAE with the support of the local organising committee and FIFA
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