Mexico 3 Iran 1
If you were listening closely enough you could almost hear the soccer gods laughing in Nuremberg. They were clearly amused at their handiwork in scheduling an Iran-Mexico affair and then broadcasting it into millions of American homes via ABC on a Sunday afternoon. You know, just to piss off Uncle Sam. Unless the game ended in a tie, someone was going to be happy and satisfied here and Americans everywhere were going to have to suffer through shiny, happy, smiling Mexicans or Iranians. And we can't have that, now can we? Certain assholes in this country would say no.
Another nice touch by the soccer gods was scheduling the game in Nuremberg after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared that the holocoust never happened. Fantastic irony all around.
As expected, it was the Mexicans who were left smiling as two goals from Omar Bravo and one from Antonio Zinho assured a comfortable win and momentarily lessened any worries about Jared Borgetti limping off injured early in the second half. Of course, Hugo Perez was still somewhere steaming mad at the whole thing.
Amazingly, not a single border crossing was attempted back on American soil between the hours of 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. (CST.)
In the end, Iran got what it deserved. After going toe to toe with the favored Mexicans in the first half and heading to the locker room at 1-1, they seemed more than content to go into a second half shell with the hope of escaping with a tie and a point. Ali Karimi, probably Iran's best player, not to mention the leader in the midfield, was subbed in the 62nd minute for Mehrzad Madanchi, a defensive midfielder. The entire Iran attack dissolved into nothing but long clearances of the ball. And they seemed completely uninterested in developing anythimg more.
Teams that resort to such tactics don't deserve to win, or in this case, tie. Alas, the dull tactics blew up in Iran's face when goalkeeper Ebrahim Mirzapour and defender Rahman Rezaei combined to commit a defensive blunder that was simply comical, so awful in its ineptitude, in fact, it prompted one to hope they're not punished via torture when they get back to Tehran. (Hey, I'm not perpetuating stereotypes. I'm worried, that's all.) Bravo pounced and it was 2-1. And pretty much over. When a team goes into a defensive shell and it backfires, it's nearly impossible to change on the go back into an offensive mentality, especially when your best player has already been sacrificed for another defender.
Obviously, Iran coach Branko Ivankovic wasn't paying attention to Leo Beenhaaker's courageous tactics only a day before. He also didn't have Shaka Hislop.
Zinha notched Mexico's third only minutes later and you could almost hear the guns being shot into the air in Mexico City. Lavolpe immediately lit up a victory cigarette on the sideline and began composing in his head a witty retort to his many critics in Mexico. Sanchez was still pissed off, of course. Had he been coach, surely Mexico would have won by a much more convincing 4-1 scoreline. Surely.
Granted, I have a bit of problem with the Mexican team, which probably has something to do with the "Osama!" chants, bags of urine being tossed at U.S. players, and the general existence of Cuauhtemoc Blanco. But you had to feel good for goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez, whose dad died only days ago. Everyone has a dad, even urine-tossers.
That said, here's hoping Mexico is embarrassed by Angola on Friday.