They may be going home earlier than they’d hoped, but Bosnia and Herzegovina made history on their last day in Brazil: Winning the first game in the young nation’s World Cup history, comfortably beating Iran 3-1 to finish third in Group F. The fourth-place Iranians, who could have advanced with a win, finish their World Cup trip with just one point from their three games.
MEMORABLE MOMENT: The 2014 World Cup is Bosnia and Herzegovina’s first since becoming independent in the early 1990s, a period that saw its piece of the former Yugoslavia among the hardest-hit by a terrible civil war. Many of the players on the Dragons’ squad grew up during that terrible time, and this World Cup was meant to be a moment of national unity. With a win and a beautiful performance in their last game, that moment has arrived. Edin Dzeko, Avdija Vrsajevic and Miralem Pjanic scored in today's win.
IN IRAN, THE DRAGON SLAYS YOU: Iran’s dream of advancing out of the group was always going to be a tough one to realize. The Iranians needed to win by more than one goal against a talented Bosnian squad and hope that Nigeria lost. Once the whistle blew in Salvador, though, the dream died very quickly. Team Melli never looked particularly threatening going forward, and what had been a stout defense over the course of the tournament just couldn’t keep up with the Dragons. Even their moment in the sun, Reza Ghoochannejhad's goal to make it 2-1, did not last long, as Vrsajevic put the game away within a minute.
WHAT-IFS: Had things gone slightly differently for both Bosnia and Iran, Nigeria and Argentina might have been the teams going home from Group F. The Dragons fell 1-0 to Nigeria in their second game, a controversial contest where a good goal from Dzeko was ruled offside while the Super Eagles appeared to have committed a foul in the build-up to their game-winner. Iran, meanwhile, outplayed Argentina in their second game until stoppage time, when Lionel Messi curled in a magical long-range strike. Had Team Melli been awarded what seemed to be a penalty earlier in the match, it might have been the equalizer rather than the winner.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Pjanic – Let the record show that Pjanic notched a goal and an assist in his nation’s first-ever World Cup victory. An excellent performance from the midfielder.