Iran recovered from the shock of conceding two early goals to finish their FIFA World Cup preparations in style with an emphatic 5-2 victory against Bosnia-Herzegovina at Tehran's Azadi Stadium on Wednesday.
TEHRAN - Iran recovered from the shock of conceding two early goals to finish their FIFA World Cup preparations in style with an emphatic 5-2 victory against Bosnia-Herzegovina at Tehran's Azadi Stadium on Wednesday.
Playing without the Bundesliga-based trio of Ali Karimi, Mehdi Mahdavikia and Fereydoon Zandi, the Iranians, back on home soil following last week's highly creditable draw against Croatia in Osijek, started slowly and found themselves behind after four minutes when VfL Bochum midfielder Zvjezdan Misimovic fired an unstoppable close range shot past goalkeeper Ebrahim Mirzapour.
The Persians' defensive frailties - a potential concern for head coach Branko Ivankovic ahead of his side's opening World Cup clash on June 11 - were once again highlighted as recent Bayer Leverkusen signing Sergej Barbarez capitalised on an error by veteran defender Yahya Golmohammadi to double the visitors' advantage.
Stunned into action, Iran reduced the deficit on 25 minutes through Mehrzad Madanchi, the Persepolis favourite latching on to a pinpoint Vahid Hashemian pass and drilling a fierce effort beyond Bosnian custodian Romeo Mitrovic.
Bosnia, whose defence was coming under increasing pressure, were then powerless to prevent their hosts going ahead courtesy of two goals in the final moments of first half action.
Messina defender Rahman Rezaei levelled matters by expertly converting a sublime Ali Daei delivery. Not to be outdone, Hashemian, profiting from some good work by Sohrab Bakhtiarizadeh, duly bagged Iran's third of the night with a terrific finish that Mitrovic had little chance of saving.
Despite Pas stopper Hassan Roudbarian - on in place of Mirzapour - having to deny substitute Senijad Ibricic, it was Iran who continued to press throughout the second period.
Daei, Madanchi and Andranik Teymourian all went close to extending the three-time Asian Cup winners' lead before Reza Enayati sent the Team Melli faithful into raptures by capping a fine solo run with an accurate shot to make it 4-2 in the 88th minute. Sepahan striker Rasoul Khatibi completed the rout in stoppage time.
Not surprisingly, when speaking to reporters after the game, Ivankovic was full of praise for the way his charges had battled back from their early setbacks.
"My players showed to what extent they are capable of overcoming such a shock and getting back into the game. We showed that we have the right players and will leave for the World Cup in Germany full of optimism," revealed the 52-year-old Croat.
Iran's World Cup adventure begins on June 11 against Group D rivals Mexico in Nuremberg. They then play Portugal six days later and Angola in Leipzig on June 21.
Iran are next in Asian Cup action on August 16 when they play Syria. The Iranians and Syrians currently lie top of Group B, but Syria have played a game more.