World Cup: Iran and Nigeria play to first draw of the tournament

Emmanuel Emenike, Alireza Jahan Bakhsh
Emmanuel Emenike of Nigeria, left, and Alireza Jahan Bakhsh of Iran battle for the ball during a Group F match at the World Cup.
(Julian Finney / Getty Images)

Stop the presses.

The World Cup has its first tie and the first goals-starved game, all wrapped up in 90, mostly humdrum minutes involving Nigeria and Iran that elicited the occasional jeer from a crowd made up primarily by Brazilians, who tend to find a lack of scoring boring.

A draw was inevitable. Twelve prior matches had ended with a winner and loser.

It was a double shutout.


The average of 3.42 goals per game was unsustainable. Every previous encounter had been blessed with at least three scores other than Mexico-Cameroon, in which two goals were mistakenly wiped off by phantom offside infractions.

Nigeria could not convert even with a ball possession edge of 69% to 31% and seven corner kicks.

If standings were kept for moral victories, Iran would be 1-0.

A defensive mind-set clicked for a soccer program so cash-strapped that the federation reportedly forbade the players from indulging in the common postgame ritual of exchanging jerseys with the opponent. (If shoe-swapping were the tradition instead, Nigeria might have had trouble giving away its pastel-colored footwear.)


The point for the draw might not pay for a bigger supply of shirts, but it exceeds some projections for Iran for the entire tournament.

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