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Joyous Iranians Fill the Streets in Celebration

From Associated Press

Millions of Iranians poured into the streets chanting “Iran,” drivers in speeding cars honked their horns and people wept and smiled in joy after Iran defeated the United States in a World Cup soccer match Sunday.

The tension surrounding the most politically charged game of the tournament erupted into a frenzy of celebrations in the capital after Iran’s 2-1 victory in the first-round match at Lyon, France. Celebrations also erupted in several Arab nations.

“Nobody is sitting at home. It is impossible for anybody to be inside their home,” shouted Human Razavi, a teenager wearing a T-shirt with a picture of Ali Daei, Iran’s standout player.

In a message to the team, Iran’s hard-line spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said: “Tonight again, the strong and arrogant opponent felt the bitter taste of defeat at your hands. Be happy that you have made the Iranian nation happy.”

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The message was read on state television after the match ended at 1:30 a.m. local time.

Moderate President Mohammad Khatami simply congratulated the Iranian players.

Like him, millions of others saw the victory as a time to celebrate rather than to gloat over the United States’ loss.

Men, women and children mingled in the crowds on the streets. Trucks packed with fans waving Iran’s green-white-and-red flags roared down the streets, promptly getting stuck in a sea of humans.

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