Heshmat MOHADJERANI (IRN)
The 1978 World Cup opened in a blaze of glory in Buenos Aires for Argentina, but in picturesque, provincial Mendoza, far to the west of the capital, within view of the Andes, there must have been an air of anti-climax as Holland found themselves starting their campaign against Iran.
The stadium, built especially for the 1978 World Cup, was impressive enough, but the pitch was far too soft, and the climate in this wine-growing region did not suit the Dutch team at all, the southern hemisphere winter bringing about bright sunlight, sharp shadows and a distinctive drop in temperature when the sun went down.
The Dutch wore a rather unappealing all orange strip for this game, and the subsequent match against Peru, presumably deciding that the traditional black shorts were no longer fashionable, or something.
WHILST the Dutch lacked several key players, including Johann Cruyff, through either injury or refusal to play, their side still contained some of the best-known names in world soccer.
The role normally played by Cruyff was taken over by Rob Rensenbrink, who gave a remarkable performance and scored all Holland's goals, two of them from the penalty-spot.
For Iran , it was the first ever match in the world cup. The Asian powerhouse reached the finals with an impressive unbeaten record dismissing all of the powerful continental competition such as Australia , Kuwait and the South Korean national teams.
As it turned out, the unfancied Iranian side battled hard to exploit their few moments of fame on the world stage, and more than once discomfited the ponderous looking Dutch defense, most notably an early break by Hossein Faraki which could easily have given them a shock lead. More often, though, they simply retreated into their half of the field, stuck rigidly to their 4-4-2 defensive formation, and invited Holland to come at them. Although often embarrassed by the Dutch aerial supremacy, they looked quite comfortable defending on the ground.
Iran were physical at times but in skipper Ali Parvin, playing his 80th international, they had one of the great captains of this tournament.
Holland led by one goal at half-time, a 39th-minute Rensenbrink spot-kick after Rene van de Kerkhof had been upended, but they had already proved far too classy for their opponents and ran out comfortable winners.
Shortly before half-time, the Iranians' inexperience showed through when René van de Kerkhof intercepted a loose pass in the center circle, and cut into the penalty area before being clumsily and unnecessarily tripped by Nasrullah Abdollahi. The injury which Van de Kerkhof sustained in this incident required him to wear a protective lightweight cast on his wrist for the remainder of the competition, with controversial consequences in the Final. Rob Rensenbrink opened the scoring from the penalty spot.
A Rensenbrink header after 62 minutes made it 2-0 and he completed his hat-trick 11 minutes from time, when he scored his second penalty after Rep had been brought down.
A win for Dutch , nonetheless aided by the loss of nerves and individual errors resulting from the usually solid Iranian defenders conceding two penalties at least one of which was highly questionable.
Heshamat Mohajerani's depleted offensive line as the result of pre-tournament injuries to his top scorers Gholamhossein Mazloomi , Mohammadreza Adelkhani and the fancied young talent , Hassan Rowshan , deprived him from fielding an offensives kine up. Rowshan , still not fully fit after a long injury , still played a crucial role and managed to create several opportunities when he cam as a second half substitute.