www.baltimoresun.com/sports/soccer/la-sp-wc-iran-nigeria-draw-20140616,0,4236910.story

baltimoresun.com

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

Mike Tierney

5:27 PM EDT, June 16, 2014

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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.