Former New York MetroStars head coach Carlos Queiroz is famed for instilling his defensive mentality on his teams, sometimes to a fault. A soccer purist might applaud Argentina’s 1-0 win over Queiroz’s Iran squad on Saturday courtesy of a stoppage-time goal by Lionel Messi as a victory against the entire strategy of “Parking the Bus.”
But to Queiroz (above), the result wasn’t a win for attacking soccer. It was collateral damage of shoddy refereeing.
“I still feel I’m young, and I want to play more football games in my life, so we need to be careful with the words that we use,” Queiroz told reporters in his postgame press conference. “Messi was great, scored the winning goal, did his duty. The referee, I’m sorry… was not at the same level.”
Serbian referee Milorad Mazic incurred Queiroz’s wrath in the 64th minute when it appeared that Iranian midfielder Ashkan Dejagah had been taken down inside Argentina’s area by Albiceleste defender Pablo Zabaleta.
“I saw the penalty,” Queiroz said. “There is no way… I just saw it in the video. [Mazic] is five meters behind the situation. There is no way that that decision can escape from him.”
Iran had looked poised to snatch a draw off an Argentina team that many believe can go on to win the World Cup, a huge result for a team that hasn’t won a game in the World Cup since a 2-1 win over the United States in 1998. Though Argentina held over 75 percent of possession throughout the game, they did little with it and seemed totally baffled by their opponents’ stiff resistance.
The Iranians, meanwhile, began to get their sea-legs under them in the second half, and as the clock ticked closer to 90 minutes Queiroz even began subbing in fresh legs for the attack.
“My wish was to try to win the game,” Queiroz said of his decision.
In the end, there was no victory for Iran, nor a respectable, hard-fought draw. The chances weren’t converted, and potentially their best chance – a one-on-one with Argentine goalkeeper Sergio Romero from 12 yards out – never came to pass.
“It was a penalty, clear,” Queiroz said. “The referee played a role in this game.”